Hello everyone. We just spotted this story behind the very much postponed product from one of Microsoft's most reluctant OEM: Ascend W1 by the Chinese phone maker Huawei. Huawei is expected to be formally (and finally) announcing the W1 on the upcoming CES 2013. I'm not sure how many of you guys are actually waiting for it, but in case you are hot in anticipation indeed, the following story will probably explain all the quietness and terrible delay that paved a bumpy road for this phone.
Rewind to January 2011, when Huawei showed its Ascend P1 (Android) to the world on CES. Soon after that, the company (along with a few other OEMs) were invited by Microsoft to Redmond to have a sneak peak at what the software giant has up its sleeves for the next generation of mobile operating system. They were showed some early previews of Windows Phone 8, and the ecosystem's future roadmap.
As early as March 2011, Huawei had already made up its mind on joining the Windows Phone family. The Ascend W1 project was established, and put into... slow motion. Initially the phone was supposed to look like this:
I trust most of us have seen this picture already. Unfortunately Huawei's engineers were not quite serious about W1 from the beginning. Later they somehow found out that they can't build the camera neatly into the phone body according to the original plan. The annoying part just has to be elevated a little bit. In the end they moved the camera to the center and gave it a round shape. This way the camera looks more natural. Little progress as it was, it took Huawei a few months. By then it was already June 2011.
And Huawei's marketing position for W1 was (and still is): colorful shells, big screen. Sound awfully familiar within the Windows Phone ecosystem, eh?
January 2012, Huawei sent a team to Redmond to work closely with Microsoft. Still in slow motion. By October 2012, a.k.a. the grand revealing of Windows Phone 8 devices, the W1 was basically ready. However, things have a way of happening all at the same time. Huawei had been under a lengthy investigation by the US government for being a potential "security threat", and by October 2012, the US government just made up its mind that Huawei was a threat indeed. Probably for this reason, the W1 was absent from Microsoft's grand campaign.
Meanwhile, Samsung announced Ativ S, Nokia announced a new line of Lumia phones, and HTC made a whole series of "signature devices" for Microsoft. Huawei did try to make a bit splash by leading bits and bites of W1 onto the web, but didn't get much positive effect.
So, finally here it is. CES 2013, Huawei Ascend W1. But rumor says Huawei won't release any peers for Ascend W1. This probably makes good sense, because the device is definitely not impressive any more in specs after a year-long delay, and "be colorful, be big" is just about the universal positioning of all Windows Phone manufacturers these days. Instead, Huawei is allegedly working on a massively improved specs-wise successor to W1 already.