Feb 24 2014, 4:51am CST | by Forbes
Huawei delivered a confident launch event yesterday at the Mobile World Congress. It exhibited the kind of confidence that only a company that is obsessed with perfection can deliver. How do I know it’s obsessed? It exhibits all of the classic traits; meticulous attention to detail, constant comparison to its rivals and a complete lack of self awareness of its debilitating obsession.
The obsession comes in two forms, both good and bad. On the good side, Huawei is innovating in slimmed down design and making some genuinely impressive looking tech. On the other side, it’s pumping out ridiculous beauty apps that automatically retouch photos for ‘when you’re not looking your best’.
When you look closely, like really closely, the crazed, bright-eyed, make-up-caked face of Huawei’s obsession stares right back at you. And it’s bloody terrifying.
Take Huawei’s new selfie machine, the Ascend G6, for example. An impressive smartphone that boasts an impossibly thin bezel, 4G and a 1.2GHz quad-core processor. All for a competitively priced €249. It was presented as the smartphone that’s aiming itself at the ‘18-30’ market, whatever that market is. Presumably people who like to get smashed on wine that comes out of a tap, and have no qualms about buying five or six new phones a year to replace the one they left on the nightbus. One of its main appeals, according to Huawei, was that it has a front facing 5MP camera, which is great if you want a pixel free Skype chat. But Huawei didn’t mutter any semblance of the phrase ‘conference call’. No, it was all ‘selfie’, ‘group selfie’, ‘in picture selfie editing’. It also features a wide angle lens for taking better group selfies and an ‘auto face enhancement’ feature that airbrushes that God awful face of yours.
I really can’t imagine someone buying a phone for the sole reason of taking better selfies. Maybe they do. Maybe Huawei knows something I don’t and there are people out there who are exclusively concerned with the quality of their selfie. Maybe society has become that repugnant and my inability to see it is a result for my natural optimism for humanity.
Maybe, this selfie malarkey is a way of distancing itself from its rivals with exclusive apps for its devices, or, maybe it simply doesn’t understand the European market. In a time when there’s backlash about the level of photoshopping of celebrities in tabloid magazines and other compilations of bile spread across 50 pages, maybe Huawei is slightly behind the trend.
When the presenter talked us through the selfie app and the automatic retouching, there were more than a few sniggers in the crowd. The unbelievably cheesy advert for the G6, which told us nothing about the phone and quickly paced through a hackneyed love story that looked like it was lifted from Google’s ‘this is where we met’ advert, confirmed to me that Huawei is trying to replicate its rivals’ ability to marry sentiment and technology – except with all of the authenticity of a shotgun wedding.
This isn’t even a new trend. The Ascend P6 also had a ‘beauty mode’ app that apparently made you look ten years younger. When I interviewed a Huawei executive at the P6 launch last year, he demoed the beauty app to me using a picture of his daughter and said ‘when I show this to people, they ask, is this your wife?’. We both laughed, although I suspect for different reasons.
The marketing schpiel, too, made me do that half-smile, half-wice you do when you’re doing your best to hide your pitying grimace. ‘It’s a thing of beauty’ the press release proclaims. ‘[it’s] stylish shape and elegantly curved edges take smartphone design to a new level of perfection’, it continues. Obviously all of Huawei’s previous phones were only mid-level perfection. Like having access to the bronze service at a day spa.
With every slide during the presentation, all I could see were the constant references to ‘perfection’, ‘beauty’ and one of its rivals – Apple or Google. You see, Huawei kindly reminded us that its new devices were in many ways better than anything Apple or Google are making. The CEO even went as far to demonstrate, with an iPad, how Huawei’s new Mediapad X1 phablet was slim enough to fit into his trouser pocket, unlike the bulky iPad. If you can even consider the iPad bulky. The tablet industry clearly suffers from body dysmorphia.
The same rhetoric followed for every other device launched yesterday as it did for the G6: ‘stunning’ ‘effortless’ ‘ultra slim’ etc etc. In many cases it’s true (not that I’d ever use those kind of adjectives to describe a budget smartphone), the tech on show tonight from Huawei is very good looking. But, this level of obsession with beauty just isn’t very attractive and, in many ways, is genuinely scary – during the entire conference I felt like I was stuck in a lift with Miss Havisham. It’s this level of obsession that teeters on the edge of sublime and falls just short of insane, and it’s this level of obsession that seems to define Huawei.
Source: Forbes Apple
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