Huawei has signed its first major ride-sharing platform to its AppGallery app store – and no, it's not the one you're thinking of. Unless, of course, you were thinking of Bolt.
Founded in Estonia in 2013, Bolt operates in 35 countries around the world, including the UK, where it launched in 2017 under the Taxify brand*. Although it's somewhat of a minnow – particularly when compared to Uber – it has managed to attract over $400m in funding during its lifetime, including €100m in May, for a valuation of €1.7bn.
As you'd expect from any ride-sharing service worth its salt, Bolt also runs a food delivery service, called Bolt Food. It's not clear if this will also see an AppGallery launch, but we've asked.
It also has fingers in the micromobility pie, first launching its electric scooter service in 2018. Bolt has since announced plans to expand this service to 45 cities by summer this year and launch its own durable scooter model.
Bolt isn't necessarily the inaugural mobility app on Huawei's AppGallery, with several region-specific services present. It is, however, the first with a global presence. Bolt operates in some 150 markets across Africa, Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia. Until April this year, it was also present in Australia.
This move is a bigger deal for Huawei than it is for Bolt. Since the Trump administration cut off the tap to Google's Play Store last May, the Chinese business has been forced to rapidly develop its own home-grown application ecosystem in a bid to remain viable outside Mainland China.
The AppGallery is growing, but there remains several glaring gaps, particularly when it comes to day-to-day utilities. Until the arrival of Here WeGo, Huawei's latest phones lacked access to turn-by-turn directional navigation.
Bolt addresses another major hole in the fabric of the AppGallery – but it's a much smaller player than Uber, and only operates in a fraction of the markets as its well-funded Silicon Valley rival. That inevitably diminishes its usefulness to most.
In a statement provided to The Register, a Bolt spokesperson said: "We're focused on making urban travel more affordable and convenient. We're glad to be offering our services to more people by making our app available in the Huawei AppGallery."
Huawei declined to comment. ®
*Staying true to the ride-sharing startup playbook, Bolt faced licensing issues with Transport For London, forcing it to temporarily suspend service. It re-entered the London market in 2019, two years later.