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Hong Kong (CNN Business) - Huawei is about to discover how important Google's ecosystem is to its global smartphone business.
The Chinese technology company will launch its latest smartphone, the Mate 30, in Munich on Thursday. It is Huawei's first smartphone series to reach the market since the United States put it on a commercial blacklist in May, cutting off access to its new products to Google applications and services.
Mate 30 phones will come with Google's open source Android operating system, but they will not have access to Google Play Store or applications such as YouTube, Gmail and Google Maps. Third-party applications, such as transportation platforms and food delivery services that rely on Google Maps, would no longer work without access to Google services.
Smartphones and other consumer products accounted for almost half of Huawei's revenues last year. But without access to popular applications, those phones become much less attractive to international customers. Earlier this year, Huawei founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei said the company's global smartphone sales fell 40% in the month after the US ban came into effect.
Europe in particular was a market in which Huawei had successfully sold high-end phones, such as the Mate and P. series. The company shipped 26.3 million smartphones in Western Europe in 2018, more than 60% from the previous year, according to market research firm IHS Markit.
While the Mate 30 "will help Huawei compete in China, which is still the world's largest smartphone market, the company will have problems outside of China ... due to the lack of Google Play Store," said Thomas Husson, an analyst of investigation of the firm Forrester. Huawei's business in Europe is particularly vulnerable, he added.
Huawei introduced its own operating system, called Harmony OS, last month. But the company said it will not use the Harmony on smartphones for now, only on smart TVs and other connected devices.
Richard Yu, head of Huawei's consumer business group, told media at an international fair earlier this month that it would be "quite easy" for users to download Google applications on their own, adding that the nature of open source Android allows "many possibilities." Yu gave no more details. Huawei declined to comment on its statements.
"It will be quite difficult to convince users to buy a premium smartphone without Google services," said Kiranjeet Kaur, IDC mobile analyst. "Even if ... there are other options available to install applications, it will not be as simple as before and there will always be a threat that the application support will disappear at any time."
The Huawei Mate 30 series is expected to come with a better camera system and faster hardware. Huawei said last month that the new phone will come with its new Kirin 990 chipset, the company's local response to Apple's Bionic A13 chipset (AAPL) on the iPhone 11.
The Mate 30 "could have competed with the latest iPhone 11 devices," Husson said, but without Google services "the total product experience will not match consumers."
The filtered promotional photos published by The Verge show that the Mate 30 and Mate 30 Pro will have four Leica cameras on the back of the phone contained in a circular cutout, surpassing the three cameras housed on the back of the iPhone 11. Huawei declined to comment about the leak, but the company hinted at the new design in a promotion for Thursday's event with a tweet: "We're going to close the circle in Munich."
Did you get it right? The countdown to # HuaweiMate30 starts now!
We're going full circle in Munich on 19.09.2019.
Join us live: https://t.co/9ugi5gG9ci#RethinkPossibilities pic.twitter.com/etRYjrBVEC
- Huawei Mobile (@HuaweiMobile) September 1, 2019
There is also a special edition of the Mate 30 Pro designed by Porsche, which adds a leather cover on the back of the phone, according to the filtered photos.
The prices of the new Mate 30 phones have not yet been announced. The previous Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro went on sale in Europe at 799 euros ($ 882) and 1,049 euros ($ 1,158) respectively.