Huawei reversed course this week and removed the advertisements that began to appear on the lock screens of the devices of its users in Europe and South Africa after pushback from consumers online.
Huawei Removes Ads from Device Lock Screen After Users Protest
Embattled Chinese tech giant Huawei moved quickly to remove ads that had begun to appear as the wallpaper of lock screen on some of its devices in Europe and South Africa after receiving pushback online from users, a smart move for a company who is likely desperate to avoid more negative press.
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As first reported by Android Central, earlier this week users began taking to Twitter to complain that the background image for the lock screen of their Huawei devices contained an ad from Booking.com.
Wtf. https://t.co/Fv4RzUmM1D ads on my lock screen. Anyone else with a Huawei getting this? pic.twitter.com/ILI6vs6wVD— Ed Spencer (@efjspencer) June 13, 2019
@Huawei_Europe Why is there advertisement on my lock screen?! Have I signed up to this in some small print T&C somewhere? pic.twitter.com/w6zS9ysuwk— RAYZ (@justicefingers) June 12, 2019
Users were angry with what they saw as an intrusion of an unwanted ad on the lock screen of their Huawei device instead of the usual cycled background image that they were expecting. Most mobile and desktop devices now have software options to cycle out background images to keep the home and lock screen of the device from getting dull, though this option typically doesn't include advertisements.
There's a whole thread on Reddit https://t.co/B2gzzSW7QG— Ed Spencer (@efjspencer) June 13, 2019
#Huawei has turned the random landscape backgrounds on the lock screen into ads. Wtf fuck this pic.twitter.com/6dAUeu17Jf— Alex (@ValexWhoa) June 13, 2019
Others were quick to point out that it wasn't all that cataclysmic, even if it was annoying, while others offered simple workarounds to remove the advertisements from the lock screen image rotation.
Calm down people. It's just a wall paper for lock screen, indeed https://t.co/Wt8jURJgGa have rights of that picture and they provide it for free, since you enable the feature to automatic change of lock screen pictures you got it.— Asad Hafeez Yousufi (@f57b4649bd914b9) June 14, 2019
Just turn off Unlock Magazine, which will no longer appear to you. Or simply delete the photos that are written to your gallery advertisements and you're done. pic.twitter.com/zdzvdkniDH
— Reis (@MrBIGdisaster) June 14, 2019
Advertisements Are an Annoying but Inevitable Part of the Economy, So You Really Can't Blame Huawei
Unfortunately, ads are an unending slog of daily life. Larger and larger ads occupy more and more of our natural spaces through billboards and other media, and may one day obscure our view of the stars themselves. They're on the websites we visit, they fill up our mailboxes, and clog up our email inboxes, so no one can blame Huawei users for getting angry that another formerly ad-free space has been taken over by advertising.
Not unlike the current revenue shortfalls from the drop-off of subscriptions and newsstand sales facing media outlets in the digital age, Huawei kind of has its back against the wall with the US trade blacklisting, which is without question cutting deeply into its revenues as a company. Huaweisent a statement to Android Central stating that the inclusion of ads was unintentional and that they had removed the images from the company's servers:
"Dear users, we thank you for your candid comments, we are sorry for the inconvenience caused to your experience. Please kindly be informed that we have taken down those lock-screen images from our servers, as they should not be appearing on lock-screen interfaces.
For the image/s already downloaded to your phone, you may delete as per following:
1) When the image appears on the screen, slide up from the bottom edge of the screen, and the operation toolbar appears;
2) Click the "Delete" button and click "Remove" in the confirmation box which pops up.
"We will continue to improve our services and brings youexcellent user experience."
Given the limited scope of the ads, however, it seems less likely that this was an unintentional blip--otherwise it would likely have been much more widespread--and much more likely that this was a test of how its user base would respond to ads on their lock screens. Given the financial strain the company is undoubtedly under, it shouldn't surprise anyone if they're testing potentially untapped revenue streams to sustain themselves through their blacklisting. Just like media websites like the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and others have turned to online advertisements and paywalls to make up for lost revenue from print subscriptions, you can expect more and more businesses to follow suit to sustain their operation as technology continues to disrupt existing business models.
That being said, this still probably wasn't the best time for Huawei to try sneak ads onto their lock screen; they have enough headaches as it is, they don't really need to be trendsetters in this particular space if they can help it.