The long-established business relationship between Huawei and Leica to integrate the German camera maker’s technology into its phones is over, the companies have confirmed.
Since February 2016, all Huawei flagships were foreseen [PDF] to have lenses and a brand image developed by Leica.
The Reg was generally quite impressed with combo products over the years.
But alas, Huawei’s smartphone sales began to plummet thanks to US sanctions against the company from 2019, and the relationship with Leica itself was terminated on March 31, 2022, the pair confirmed.
Leica and Huawei have jointly declared The register:
The break follows Huawei’s attempts to realign its business segments without access to components containing non-US technologies.
Huawei’s smartphone, tablet and wearables division shrunk by 50% between 2020 and 2021, due to these US sanctions and other market access losses. The company was even forced to sell its Honor low-end handset business and credited “the continued unavailability of technical elements necessary for our mobile phone business” for the decision.
For Leica, the end of the Huawei deal presented it with a challenge and an opportunity, and it is now working with Xiaomi to integrate its technology into a new flagship handset due for release in July.
In a canned statement, Leica CEO Matthias Harsch and Xiaomi Group CEO Lei Jun mentioned the “cooperation will give strong impetus to Xiaomi’s imaging strategy”.
Leica has cult status. Its head of development in the early 1910s, Oskar Barnack, was behind the manufacture of the first 35mm camera, known as the Ur-Leica. The brand has been said to bring credibility to Huawei products.
The loss for Huawei could be a huge win for Xiaomi, and isn’t a bad deal for Leica either. Canalys predicted that Xiaomi would take third place for smartphone market share in the first quarter of 2022 after Samsung and Apple.
Xiaomi’s first-quarter revenue fell 11% year-over-year to $6.88 billion, thanks to strict COVID lockdowns and enduring logistics and supply chain nightmares resulted.
In a earnings call, Xiaomi President Wang Xiang said that the problem has gradually improved in Hong Kong and Shenzhen, but in Shanghai logistics remains a problem. ®