BEIJING/SHANGHAI, Sept 25 (Reuters) – Huawei Technologies (HWT.UL) on Monday introduced a series of new products ranging from a golden smartwatch to a smart car, but disappointed viewers by not revealing more details about its new Mate 60 series of smartphones, prompting a wave of complaints online.
The event, held in a stadium and watched by millions online, was expected to see Huawei break its silence on the smartphone, which was hailed by Chinese state media as a sign that the company had overcome the American sanctions which have cut off its access to advanced chip manufacturing tools since 2019 and crippled its smartphone.
The smartphone was spear without fanfare last month during the visit to China of the American Secretary of Commerce, Gina Raimondo. Some users and analysts who purchased the Mate 60 Pro claim that it uses a Chinese-made chip and is capable of 5G speeds.
Huawei has so far not commented on the full capabilities of the Mate 60 series, which is seen as its first major effort since sanctions to defy Apple’s demands. (AAPL.O) dominance in the smartphone market.
Yu Chengdong, CEO of Huawei’s consumer group, however, gave a nod to the smartphone in his keynote speech when he especially thanked the entire nation for their tremendous support, especially since the launch of the Pioneer program (Mate 60 Pro). .
As Yu spoke, audience members chanted “far, far away” – a phrase that has gone viral on Chinese social media since the launch of the Mate 60 Pro to criticize Huawei’s competitiveness.
“Our products have been well received and received everyone’s trust after entering the market. We are urgently working overtime to produce more so that more people can buy our products,” Yu said.
“WHY DIDN’T THEY TALK”
But as the two-hour event progressed, commentators on the livestream began to wonder when Yu would talk about the Mate 60 as he introduced a series of new products ranging from a tablet to an ultra-high-end brand range called “Ultimate Design”.
On Monday afternoon, after the event ended, the topic “Huawei’s press conference did not mention smartphones” became popular on social media platform Weibo and was among the top ten most read hashtags with over 8 million views.
“Why didn’t they talk about it? Everyone watched it because of the smartphone,” said Maniler, a Weibo user.
The event ended with a group of people on stage waving Mate 60 smartphones with flashlights on, while singing “Glorious Years”, a Cantopop hit by Hong Kong rock band Beyond whose lyrics speak to the struggles faced Nelson Mandela was confronted in South Africa.
Another Weibo user said such an ending, combined with the lack of smartphone discussion, left him perplexed.
“What kind of movement is this?” he said.
Huawei did not immediately respond to a request for comment on its decision not to discuss the Mate 60 Pro at the event and the social media reaction.
Bryan Ma, a technology analyst at IDC, said he wasn’t surprised Huawei avoided the topic “given how much of a lightning rod it was.”
“After all, Huawei had a lot of other products to cram into a long two-hour launch, while the Mate60 has already been on store shelves and in users’ hands for a few weeks now,” he said .
Huawei updated its official website after the event to add prices for its Mate 60 Pro+, which will start at 8,999 yuan ($1,230), and the Mate 60 RS Ultimate Design version, priced at 12,999 yuan . Apple’s new iPhone 15 Pro costs 7,999 yuan in China.
ANNIVERSARY OF MENG’S RETURN
The timing of the event was also seen as symbolic, as it took place on the second anniversary of Huawei’s rotating chairwoman Meng Wanzhou’s return to China.
She returned in 2021 after being detained for nearly three years over alleged attempts by Huawei-linked companies to sell equipment to Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions.
The extraditions drama has become a source of discord between Beijing and Washington. Meng, the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, was allowed to return home after reaching a deal with US prosecutors.
Broadcast live in Huawei stores, in 156 local media outlets and on Chinese social media platforms, Monday’s product launch event attracted a large audience, with dozens of shoppers at Huawei’s flagship store in Beijing cheering after seeing Yu take the stage.
A customer at the Beijing store, Zhang Nianrong, a 29-year-old engineer, said he saw the Mate 60 Pro as “having meaning far beyond its value” and was considering buying it.
“The smartphone represents a very important meaning. It means that even the most malicious sanctions cannot have an impact on the development of human technology. This is very significant and inspires us as a young generation.”
($1 = 7.3116 Chinese yuan)
Reporting by Yelin Mo and Brenda Goh; Additional reporting by Sophie Yu in Beijing; Editing by Himani Sarkar
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