Huawei may overcome the Google Maps hurdle with TomTom deal

20 Jan 2020960 Views

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Huawei has entered into a partnership with navigation company TomTom to create an alternative to Google Maps.

Just a few weeks into 2020, it’s clear that Huawei’s plans to build out its own mobile OS are well underway.

The Chinese tech company, which was cut off from licensed Google apps such as Google Maps and Google Play Store after being placed on the US ‘entity list’ last year, has struck a deal with TomTom.

New Huawei phones, including the Huawei Mate 30, are using an open-source version of Google’s Android system without these key apps, but the company has also developed its own backup operating system, entitled HarmonyOS.

In order to create a competitor to Apple Maps and Google Maps, while partnering with a non-US business, Huawei has reached an agreement with Dutch navigation and digital mapping business TomTom, a company that is perhaps best known for its sat-nav systems.

The future of navigation for Huawei  

Huawei will now be able to use TomTom’s maps, traffic information and navigation software to develop apps for its smartphones.

The news was confirmed to Reuters by a TomTom spokesperson, Remco Meerstra, who said that the agreement between the two companies was reached some time ago, but has only been announced now. Meerstra declined to make any further comment on the deal.

In recent years, TomTom has moved away from making devices, shifting its focus to offering navigation software services. Last year, the company sold its telematics division to Japan’s Bridgestone.

In August last year, Huawei was rumoured to be building its own navigation software, including support for real-time traffic reports as well as augmented reality features, and focusing on app developers rather than end users.

Investment in Huawei apps

This appears to have been confirmed by last week’s announcement that Huawei plans to offer support and financial incentives to app developers in the UK and Ireland if they develop apps for the Huawei App Gallery.

The company released 24 open developer kits as part of this process, including its Map Kit, which it said will provide user locations, allowing for user personalisation of maps and route planning.

Huawei plans to invest £20m in app developers in the UK and Ireland, beginning almost immediately. Huawei UK and Ireland said it is offering the chance to claim a £20,000 incentive for apps uploaded to the Huawei App Gallery by 31 January.

The company said that its goal is to meet the demand from a growing number of consumers expressing interest in a “new app store that helps them take back control of their personal information”, by offering them a “credible, safe and secure alternative”.

Kelly Earley is a journalist with Siliconrepublic.com

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