Hipsters beware, you’ll soon be able to call a Leica smartphone your own. Or at least a Huawei smartphone fitted with Leica camera and optical technology. Or a Huawei phone with a red dot. The two are teaming up. It also didn’t escape Leica that smartphone sales eat into the boutique luxury segment the venerable German camera maker positions itself in. Well yes, there is all the rebranded Panasonic gear for Leica to not completely let go of that middle segment. Now the “red dot” branding is after a not only a younger crowd with less dispensable income. Oliver Kaltner, CEO of Leica Camera, formulates it like this: “Smartphones make a very important contribution to the world of photography and open an important door for Leica to new target groups and fields of application.”
Leica never misses a train. They just need some more time to catch it. Not that Huawei smartphones are extremely popular, they’re however well designed, and after all it’s not the first time that two experts in their own field team up – Zeiss in January announced a collaboration with ExoLens, makers of premium optics for smartphones. Microsoft inherits Nokia’s legendary Lumia technology, and well Apple’s proprietary iOS camera technology is in a league of its own, not to forget the stellar Sony Xperia camera phones, or LG’s latest G5, simply amazing photography gear that fits into the palm of your hand.
Now Leica joins the mobile fray. Kind of overdue? As long as there’s no premium red dot Leica tax on those mobile phones, so be it. Huawei is a decent enough company to not only bet “on a long tradition of innovation, highest precision and craftsmanship”, as Leica chairman Dr. Andreas Kaufmann puts it. Huawei is the world’s third-largest smartphone manufacturer, and as Leica made a name for itself by creating lightweight cameras for more than 100 years, now they’ll be creating even more lightweight cameras.
Differentiation in this highly competitive environment won’t be easy. Ease of use, user interface and functionalities are keys to win hearts and minds of the smartphobiles. Huawei is confident. “Leica is a legend in the world of photography; we believe no other manufacturer has revolutionized the industry as much as them”, said Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei Consumer Business Group.
In their February 25 press release the two leaders in the smartphone and photographic worlds even praise the creation of a “visual world renaissance” ahead. We’ll see about that, but sure looks like a win-win-situation for both already. Huawei gets the red dot brand appeal, while Leica gets access to vast new avenues.
Now make that red dot a flash. And give me limited special editions. Seriously… Rather sounds like a great branding / licensing deal for the Germans than them being able to provide true innovation in a field where the cards are dealt out already. The Asians are way much more ahead.