• X
  • Listen in to our latest podcast!

    January 9, 2017

    Huawei shirks Google Assistant in favor of Amazon’s Alexa

    huawei mate 9 alexa

    Huawei has revealed that when it arrives in the US, its Mate 9 handset will be the first smartphone equipped with Amazon’s Alexa.

    Huawei ripped through several juicy headlines in 2016, between introducing the dual-lens P9 and later the refined Mate 9. Now, the Chinese company has made the surprise decision to equip the latter device with Amazon’s Alexa artificial intelligence when it arrives in the United States.

    The move is an odd decision, but certainly one that will generate news appeal – the Mate 9 will subsequently be the very first smartphone that Alexa will be preinstalled on.

    Read: Chinese manufacturers Huawei, Oppo, and BK Communication show explosive global sales growth

    While Android phones – even ones skinned as heavily as Huawei’s devices – make use of Google services, the US version of the Mate 9 will instead rely on Alexa to handle voice commands and assistant functions.

    The move comes amidst two key junctures; Huawei is aggressively expanding into the US with its mid-range Honor series as well as its self-named flagships, and Google has a tight reign over (arguably) Alexa’s closest competitor: Google Assistant.

    While Google has indicated that it will release Assistant across a broader Android clientele in the near future, the company has been reluctant to relieve its Pixel and Pixel XL devices of their primary selling point.

    Samsung, similarly, has executed a parallel move; but rather than turn to Amazon’s Alexa, the South Korean chaebol acquired Viv – an artificial intelligence from the makers of Siri – which it could release on the Galaxy S8 under the moniker of ‘Bixby’ or ‘Kestra’.

    Thus, when the Mate 9 hits US storefronts, the device will have a unique proposition of its own and will tie into households that already rely on an Echo or Echo Dot unit as the brains of a smart home operation.

    Read: Amazon Prime Video is set to launch in South Africa

    What are your thoughts? What AI assistant would you like to see the Mate 9 use? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

    Follow Bryan Smith on Twitter: @bryansmithSA

    Listen in to our latest podcast!

    • Simba

      While I’m not really worried about which AI assistant to use (TIA, basically), I’d say it’s a wise move for Huawei! Amazon are advancing at such rate with this AI/IoT stuff so quite naturally, they sound like the best bet right now (who was that said Google’s got nothing on Amazon??)
      I’ll also say how I feel about Huawei : While their support for the African market is rather poor for my liking, I think they make some of the best devices on the market right now. I’ve used two Huawei flagships ;and the call quality, connectivity, and battery performance are the best I’ve experienced so far! They understand mobile technology, its being more than colour rich displays and popular SoCs (hey there big S!)
      Please note : I’m not a techie or such, I’m just a mobile phone user that loves a lot about smartphones (and the smartphone wars) Peace

      • Thanks for your comment, @simbamudondo:disqus! At present, I’d agree with you – I’m not overly concerned with what AI assistant I’d use as – at least in South Africa – smart home support is lacking. I think the real avenue of choice will come into effect when Google Home and Amazon Echo see a larger rollout around the globe.

        Personally, I’d like to invest in the Google ecosystem – but considering the breadth of Alexa’s functionality and support in the US I’d argue that Huawei’s decision to equip the Mate 9 wth it is a wise one – at least until Google Assistant becomes available on other Android devices.

        I’d also agree with your regarding Huawei’s devices; I’d like to see greater software support and customer care, but I’ve been quite impressed with the roster of devices that has arrived in SA so far. I’m looking forward to seeing – in particular – the Huawei P10 later this year!

        • Simba

          Oh yes, the Huawei P10 I’m also looking forward to.