Fresh off integrating Amazon’s Alexa in the Huawei Mate 9, the world’s third biggest smartphone manufacturer is now also working on crafting its own voice assistant, specifically tailored for China. A report from Bloomberg has illuminated some of the work going on behind the scenes, but Huawei has already been upfront about its plans on this front.
During CES in January, Huawei mobile chief Richard Yu told The Verge in a group briefing with other members of the press, including Bloomberg, that Huawei was planning a voice assistant only for its home market of China. In the United States and elsewhere, Huawei plans to pursue a path of least resistance through partnerships instead:
“Today, Amazon and Google are stronger than us; Alexa and Google Assistant are better. How can we compete?”
It would be unfair, therefore, to characterize what Huawei is now building as any sort of a competitor to Google and Amazon’s offerings (which aren’t available in China). Yu’s expressed attitude is pragmatic, avoiding confrontation where he doesn’t see a clear strength for his company. Instead, the Chinese voice assistant will be introduced to support an ecosystem of apps, games, and services that Huawei is already building in its native market.