Huawei set to take on Ap­ple in key mar­ket

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE - By GAO YUAN gaoyuan@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Huawei Tech­nolo­gies Co Ltd is pre­par­ing to chal­lenge Ap­ple Inc in a pre­mium-end smart­phone mar­ket as the Chi­nese telecom equip­ment maker un­veiled a new flag­ship hand­set in the United King­dom and a top ex­ec­u­tive spoke of plans to en­ter the United States.

The Shen­zhen, Guang­dong­com­pany de­buted its lat­est de­vice, the P9, a pam­phlet with a dual-lens cam­era, in Lon­don on Wed­nes­day. Huawei, the third-largest hand­set maker in the world, is bet­ting on the new de­vice to fur­ther ex­pand its pres­ence out­side of China.

Huawei has been in­tro­duc­ing its flag­ship de­vices in Europe since 2014, a strong in­di­ca­tion the Chi­nese com­pany is shift­ing its fo­cus from China to de­vel­oped mar­kets.

Af­ter steadily grow­ing mar­ket share in coun­tries in­clud­ing the UK and Spain, the com­pa­ny­may fi­nally step into the US, a highly prof­itable yet ex­tremely com­pet­i­tive mar­ket for global ven­dors.

Richard Yu, head of Huawei’s con­sumer elec­tron­ics unit, told The Wall Street Jour­nal the com­pany plans to launch a flag­ship de­vice in the US later this year.

“We want to be­come theNo 1 as a pre­mium brand,” Yu was quoted as say­ing by the news­pa­per

We want to be­come the No 1 as a pre­mium brand.”

onWed­nes­day.

Huawei, which started off as a bud­get phone man­u­fac­turer more than a decade ago, is now fo­cus­ing on de­vel­op­ing de­vices priced above 3,000 yuan ($460), a widely ac­cepted thresh­old for high­end mar­ket. The most ex­pen­sive Huawei de­vice — the Mate S — is sell­ing at 4,899 yuan, close to the price of an iPhone 6S.

Call­ing Huawei’s smart­phone am­bi­tion “ag­gres­sive”, Ni­cole Peng, re­search di­rec­tor at Shang­hai-based con­sul­tancy Canalys, said the top pri­or­ity for Huawei this year will be in­creas­ing its pres­ence in over­seas mar­kets while fight­ing Xiaomi Corp on its home ground.

Huawei was one of the fastest-grow­ing smart­phone ven­dors by the end of 2015 with a whop­ping 37 per­cent year-onyear jump, ac­cord­ing to the re­search firm In­ter­na­tional Data Corp. Ship­ments of Sam­sung Elec­tron­ics Co Ltd saw a drop in the same pe­riod while the iPhone ship­ments went flat.

Huawei’s con­sumer elec­tron­ics unit, which sells smart­phones, wear­ables and ac­ces­sories, gen­er­ated a rev­enue of 129 bil­lion yuan in 2015, a surge of 73 per­cent year-on-year, the com­pany said ear­lier this month. It shipped about 108 mil­lion smart­phones last year and 75 mil­lion in 2014, ac­cord­ing to Huawei.

This spring presents an op­por­tu­nity for Huawei to close gaps with Ap­ple af­ter the US gi­ant’s lat­est roll­out failed to catch buy­ers’ at­ten­tion.

The iPhone SE had the low­est adop­tion in its first week­end of avail­abil­ity since 2012, ac­cord­ing to Lo­c­a­lyt­ics, a mo­bile app an­a­lyt­ics com­pany. The iPhone SE took 0.1 per­cent of the over­all iPhone mar­ket by the first week­end since its avail­abil­ity, it said. In com­par­i­son, the iPhone 6S grabbed 1 per­cent in mar­ket share by the first week­end of re­lease and iPhone 6 took 2 per­cent.

But Huawei may still find it dif­fi­cult to face off Ap­ple this year.

An­thony Scarsella, an IDC an­a­lyst, said to com­bat Ap­ple at the high-end, Huawei will need to bring more value to con­sumers.

“Many ven­dors have placed a re­newed fo­cus on push­ing pre­mium-look­ing mid-tier de­vices as a new value propo­si­tion to con­sumers in both de­vel­oped and emerg­ing mar­kets,” said Scarsella.

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