There's already a big announcement at the CP+ camera show in Japan, but it's actually for smartphones. Huawei has announced a strategic partnership with Leica, the German company known for making some of the best, and most expensive, cameras and lenses in the world. In a fabulously over-the-top press release, Huawei promised "both technology and photography brands combining their shared ethos in a long-term commitment to the art of craftsmanship ... to create a powerhouse in the reinvention of smartphone photography. " The companies say the tie-up will "span research and development, design, co-engineering, user experience, marketing and retail distribution," but gave no other details.
Unlike fellow Teutonic lens-makers Zeiss, Leica has only made lenses for one smartphone: Panasonic's photography-oriented CM1. The company has also slapped its own brand on Panasonic's mirrorless cameras and jacked up the price in the process. Leica CEO Oliver Kaltner said the company would bring its "comprehensive expertise in optical engineering to the long-term partnership with Huawei in order to achieve the best possible imaging results in the field of smartphone photography -- and to take it to the next level of quality." However, it's not clear if Leica will supply lenses for Huawei or help them design its smartphone cameras.
If Huawei devices start carrying the Leica red dot, it would certainly give them an immediate name-brand appeal, especially in its prime market of Asia. And in turn, Huawei, as the number three smartphone brand in the world, could open up vast new avenues to Leica. Both companies said they'll share more details "as the partnership continues."