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Huawei’s three closest Chinese rivals form rare partnership

[BEIJING] Huawei Technologies Co's three biggest Chinese rivals, normally vicious competitors, have agreed to a rare alliance in developing smartphone technology as Huawei widens its lead in the Chinese smartphone market.

Xiaomi Corp, Oppo and Vivo will introduce a protocol that allows wireless file transfers between the three brands' phones without a third-party app. A beta version of the feature, similar to Apple Inc's AirDrop, will be available soon, according to press releases from Oppo and Xiaomi. Vivo also confirmed the tie-up via a Weibo post from its official account.

"As top-tier brands, the file-transfer function will create a scale effect thanks to the huge user base," Oppo said in its press release. The three companies welcomed other Android phone vendors to their partnership, it added.

The united front comes at a time when Huawei has grown its China phone market share to 37 per cent, according to second-quarter figures from research firm IDC. Vivo, Oppo and Xiaomi, the closest competitors, all lost market share in the quarter as total demand in China shrunk ahead of 5G network and device launches. Shenzhen-based Huawei is aiming for a 50per cent share by the end of this year, Bloomberg News reported earlier.

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Oppo and Vivo both track their histories to reclusive Chinese billionaire Duan Yongping, and waged a bitter battle against then-No.1 vendor Xiaomi in 2014 and 2015. The sister brands — Oppo's supposed to be about great photography and Vivo's founding was about being the best at audio — aggressively expanded their business in the vast rural areas of China with handsome incentives to private electronic shop owners. Their resulting growth in the rural market prompted Xiaomi co-founder Lei Jun to visit local stores in the villages of Henan province to investigate the popularity for himself. Xiaomi then stepped up marketing in lower-tiered Chinese cities in mid-2017, about a year before its high-profile public offering in Hong Kong.

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