My first encounter with Huawei happened in the late 2000s when a newcomer cell network operator started giving out free handsets to its new clients. The phone they gave out free was a Huawei U120, a lightweight, versatile handset that was almost as durable as Nokia’s legendary 3310 while still being able to connect to 3G networks, playing music, and even acting as an external 3G modem when connected to a PC. Little did I know that Huawei was, at the time, one of the biggest providers of telecom equipment in the world, with its devices used to create cell and optical networks in my home town and beyond. The phone was “dumb” – it had no games, no extra features, and its internet was slow enough for loading Betway or Wikipedia taking ages. Around the same time, Huawei presented its first smartphone – the U8220, introduced at MWC 2009, ran Android 1.5 (Cupcake), had just 192 MB of internal storage, and a 3-megapixel camera. A decade has passed, and things have changed: today, the Chinese telecommunications equipment manufacturer plans to become the biggest smartphone manufacturer in the world.
Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei Consumer BG, recently announced the company’s new strategic goals on Weibo. According to this update, he plans to push Huawei into the top position in the list of the world’s smartphone manufacturers this year, and push Honor, Huawei’s sub-brand, to become the second largest smartphone brand in China (the world’s biggest smartphone market) and the 4th biggest brand on a global scale. In an article posted on Huawei’s official website on April 4th, the company takes pride in completing all the strategic goals set by Yu in 2012: transforming into an independent OEM brand, upgrading from mid-range to high-end, phasing out ultra-low-end handsets like the above-mentioned U120, create the EMUI interface, and become the top performer in the global hardware industry. According to the update, Huawei’s consumer division has shown the largest growth in the company, increasing its sales by 45% year-on-year, while the international sales of the Honor sub-brand have seen a growth of 170%.
And when it comes to the company’s plans for the future, Mr. Richard Yu has expressed his belief that Huawei and Honor will “become the world’s largest smartphone manufacturer this year”. To achieve this, both brands will support a forward-thinking mindset to help create a fully connected world, while the company behind them will continue its investments in technology innovation, channel distribution, and retail while maintaining a firm dual-brand strategy.
While Huawei got its share of bad press, this didn’t stop the manufacturer to take market share from major manufacturers like Samsung and Apple. While these two still hold their leading position when it comes to sales volume globally, their market shares are slowly decreasing – at the same time, Huawei sees its market share grow every quarter – both because of its high-tech handsets and its friendlier prices.