Chinese technology company Huawei makes a range of products, including smartphones, for which it has big ambitions. A CNBC interview with its consumer-division’s CEO Richard Yu outlines Huawei’s desire to overtake Samsung as the world’s largest smartphone manufacturer by 2020. But there’s another very interesting claim lower down in the article.

“The company has services such as cloud storage, music streaming and video content, which are little known outside of China,” reported CNBC. “It’s something the company doesn’t talk much about but it claims Huawei Music, its music streaming platform, has 100 million monthly active users.”

Several of Music Ally’s sources in China expressed surprise at the figure: discussion there tends to focus on Tencent Music’s three services (QQ Music, Kuwo and KuGou) and NetEase Cloud Music. Yet the 100m figure may not be that outlandish: a report in March on Huawei’s plans to launch its music service in South Africa claimed that it had 32 million daily active users in China, for example, and based on that, a monthly total of 100 million isn’t out of the question. Huawei Music also launched in the Middle East this August.

But what is a ‘Huawei Music user’ though? The other thing to consider here is those smartphones. According to research firm IDC, Huawei shipped 145.5m smartphones in the first nine months of 2018 alone, and Huawei Music is its preloaded music app. We can’t help but wonder whether this is the key to the ‘100 million monthly active users’ figure – that it’s the number of people using Huawei’s music app (including those simply listening to their own music on their phone) rather than actual music-streaming users.

We’ve seen this in the west too: in April, research firm Verto Analytics claimed that Apple Music had 49.5 million subscribers in the US, when what it was actually measuring / estimating was the number of people using the default ‘Music’ app on iOS devices. Even so, Huawei Music’s 100m figure is still noteworthy: at least a reason to watch the company’s efforts to convert its smartphone buyers into music streamers (and eventually subscribers) in China as well as those other emerging markets where it’s selling devices.

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Stuart Dredge

Music Ally's Head of Insight

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