Huawei’s move upmarket starts to pay off

Huawei’s move upmarket starts to pay off

22 APR 2015

LIVE FROM HUAWEI GLOBAL ANALYST SUMMIT 2015: Huawei’s decision to drop white-label manufacturing and push its smartphone brands globally has been a wise move.

Glory Zhang, Huawei’s chief marketing officer for its consumer business group, said yesterday that in a global survey its brand recognition has improved from 52 per cent to 65 per cent over the past year, while its net promoter score (NPS) climbed to number 3 behind Apple and Samsung.

After an aggressive push to move away from the low-end segment, the company reported last week that mid-range and high-end models accounted for 34 per cent of its smartphone shipments in Q1, up from just 5 per cent a year ago.

Smartphone shipments in Q1 increased 28 per cent to 17.5 million units. The group’s overall revenue increased 29 per cent to $12.1 billion last year, while its share of the global smartphone market rose from 5.1 per cent to 5.8 per cent.

huawei p8The company has shipped more than seven million P series devices, but since the series is still on the market, that number continues to rise. For the newly-released P8 (pictured), Zhang said it “hopes to sell something like 10 million units. But the specific number is not a big issue for us – we’re more interested in building a trusted brand that consumers love”.

The company’s “big dream”, she said, is to capture 8-10 per cent of the huge smart device market (covering smartphones, tablets, wearables and connected-car modules), which is estimated to be worth $534 billion in 2019.

Asked about its strategy to catch up with Apple, Zhang said that “catching up with anybody is not a big focus for us”. She explained that Huawei has built a strong foundation over the last 13 years and knows the handset business. “You can never conquer the world in one day. It takes time, and we think we’re on the right track.”

She pointed to its experience in large-scale manufacturing and its white-label history, which has proved it can meet the quality requirements operators demand.

“We are aiming for much more, but we don’t care so much about the competition and we don’t change our strategy based on what competitors are doing.”

huawei story picHuawei’s smartwatch will be launched in the next three months, she said, noting that its wearable business is very small (she wouldn’t share an expected percentage of revenue target for this year).

Zhang claimed the company has about 7,000 international retail “stores”, but acknowledged during the Q&A that this number includes branded kiosks and counters at various retail establishments.

More than half of those are in China, but she said the percentage will decline as it builds up its global brand.


Joseph Waring

Joseph Waring joins Mobile World Live as the Asia editor for its new Asia channel. Before joining the GSMA, Joseph was group editor for Telecom Asia for more than ten years. In addition to writing features, news and blogs, he...

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