The user experience is a vital aspect of mobile, gaming in particular. With a vast array of games, apps and other entertainment available, for a user to stick with a particular application or device the experience needs to be top notch.
We spoke to VP of Huawei Consumer Mobile Services in Europe, Jaime Gonzalo, about his views on the user experience and the developing world of mobile, and being in tune with how to structure these aspects for a growing and international consumer base.
PocketGamer.biz: Can you give us a quick introduction to yourself and your role?
I’m Dr. Jaime Gonzalo, VP of Huawei Consumer Mobile Services in Europe, responsible for the Product & Business Strategy, Go-to-Market, and Performance of all Mobile Services in the region. I hold a PhD “Cum Laude” in Videogame and Digital Content Business and have a background in some of the biggest names in Apps and Games, having worked for Google, Electronic Arts Mobile (EAGames), and Gameloft.
Our team, based across multiple European countries, is in charge of Huawei Mobile Services (HMS) across Europe, from the Product, the User Experience and the Partner growth dimensions. HMS is an ecosystem of platforms that enhances the experience and interaction within connected Huawei devices and beyond.
Have you been playing any mobile games of late that have really captured your attention?
The games I play are a combination of the best ones I find every week (for example, I recently discovered Bullet Echo from Zeptolabs, or Talking Tom Time Rush from Outfit7), and others where I invest more time in developing my skills and building up my heroes.
This includes games such as Hearthstone (mainly Battlegrounds, especially now they’ve released the newest cards and missions), and Saint Seiya Awakening, which is an amazing RPG game from an extremely popular franchise in Southern Europe during my childhood. Every week, we manually evaluate around 100 new games released on AppGallery across Europe.
By some measures, it’s been a difficult year for Huawei’s home country of China. Has that impacted your work in Europe or other regions of the world?
The past year has brought up considerable challenges for many companies across the world, and Huawei has not been immune to these headwinds. Huawei has been enduring particularly harsh business difficulties, for the reasons that we all know.
As unfair as these can be, far from reducing our motivation, the challenge has fuelled our creativity and dedication, which has translated into the fastest expansion and growth of our Mobile Services and interconnected ecosystem than in previous years.
Times ahead will be challenging for many. At Huawei, that’s why we’re taking an open mindset of co-operation and inviting all partners and users to work closely with us, so that we can keep finding solutions that enable them to keep growing, as we have always done.
We often talk about the biggest challenges facing good user experience and engagement, but what are some of the biggest successes you’ve seen recently?
As large as Huawei can seem from the outside, the truth is that we are quite humble in our spirit. We have much to learn. As such, one of the core values of Huawei is “grow through self-reflection”. For that reason, we don't spend nearly as much time celebrating successes as we do addressing areas of improvement.
However, achieving small victories regularly helps to strengthen the ground of our determination to keep doing our best in terms of innovation at the service of a better society. Our latest flagship device for example, the Mate 50 Pro, recently received the highest score for a smartphone in history, regarding the quality of its camera and photographic capabilities. A couple of months ago, AppGallery won an award at IFA (Berlin, September 2022), as the “Rising star of the Mobile Ecosystems”. Furthermore, from the user experience perspective, AppGallery now has reached 220,000 fully integrated Apps, which account for 90% of the most popular Apps across multiple western markets.
These wins, together with the fact that we remain the 3rd largest Mobile Ecosystem with 730 Million monthly active devices and a 6M registered developer community, show that we are moving in the right direction.
As an app store, AppGallery is not the first name on people’s lips, but are there certain advantages to not following other examples and offering an alternative?
It is true that AppGallery is the youngest brother (in terms of age) compared to all other app marketplaces. However, its popularity keeps growing every month, even beyond Huawei devices. We see, especially among gamers, many of them installing the AppGallery app on their devices from all Android brands, in order to benefit from the exclusive offers that we offer compared to the standard Android experience.
For example, the “Gifts” section on AppGallery is full of top games, such as Infinity Kingdom, or Manor Matters from Playrix, that provide in-game exclusive rewards - sometimes up to €100 in value. Other examples could be top apps such as Tinder, that unlike on the standard Android channels, offer all AppGallery users 6 months VIP for free.
How significant would you say the mobile gaming market is becoming in how people select their phones and their OS?
I'm sure there is a huge volume of research on how consumers make their purchase choices, but one factor that is easy to understand is that people tend to follow a criteria of “inertia”, which means that often, changes are seen as a complexity, and as such our brains tend to generate some degree of natural loyalty to the experience we already know.
In my opinion however, mobile gaming should not be a factor when selecting phones and iOS, since the gaming experience is quite OS agnostic. This means that selecting a Huawei device, or any other OS device, should not mean much of a sacrifice for gamers. They should be able to find and enjoy amazing games across all OS, unlike the exclusive gaming partnerships that we so often see in the console domain.
That said, the AppGallery gaming experience is often loved by gamers due to the gifts and constant offers that we share. Otherwise, users of other Android phones would not install games from AppGallery, which they do.
You’re a recipient of a PhD in Video Game, Digital & Online Business. If you could go back in time, change your curriculum, or give a lecture to your younger self, what would you tell them is key to know about the current market?
I tend to be very demanding with myself, so my first piece of advice would be: Be understanding with yourself, know when you are doing enough, and make sure you create enough room in your life to enjoy it.
In addition, I would encourage myself to stay curious and keep learning. Diversify your skillset, become compatible with multi-functional teams, and try to understand others´ languages and daily challenges.
One of my university friends, whom I really admire, taught me the capability to find any topic fascinating, no matter how close it is from our personal interests. He was able to pay attention to anyone explaining anything about any topic, as long as they did it with passion.
When you spoke to us at PGC Helsinki, the main topic was about privacy and data protection. Have there been any major developments since then?
As you very well pointed out, some of the weakest points in our ecosystem are not on the technical side, the product quality, or the user experience. Our challenge is on the awareness gap that our services still have for many users. So, we do our best to explain, to elaborate on the experience that our services provide, about the key similarities and differentiators from other ecosystems, and about success stories from partners and users.
In terms of data and security, we continue to keep AppGallery user data private and secure. Every third-party app on AppGallery undergoes rigorous screening, monitoring, certification, and re-inspection – a process that successfully identifies and isolates malicious, rogue, or Trojan horse apps straight from the source. AppGallery also has daily security checks, detecting malicious in-app behaviour, conducting privacy disclosure inspections for apps, and scanning apps for the presence of loopholes, vulnerabilities, and/or backdoors.
Finally, can you give us any hints about what the future holds for Huawei?
The World is embracing IoT. The smartphone market has flattened in terms of growth since 2016. People will keep discovering other smart devices, and subsequently reduce their dependency from smartphones. This means Smartwatches, smart screens, cars, lights, kitchens, cleaning robots, drones, and more. Huawei has been strongly investing in paving the way for this seamless inter-connected digital life, and we hope to keep representing the tip of the spear of innovation in this domain.
We continue to invest extensively in R&D (2nd highest investor in the world), and we have one of the largest patent portfolios in the world. In 2021, we topped the list of applicants through the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) with 6,952 patent applications for the fifth year in a row. This is evidence of our projection towards a better technological future for everyone.
Dr Gonzalo also made an appearance at PGC Helsinki, where we managed to pin him down and get his statements on privacy and data protection, something Huawei has been making big moves in to ensure their customer base is confident in the ability of Huawei to protect their data. You can find our chat with him about the digital ecosystem and more here.