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SA consumers take to Huawei devices with native ecosystem

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Huawei Consumer Business Group SA CTO Akhram Mohamed.
Huawei Consumer Business Group SA CTO Akhram Mohamed.

Since starting to sell smartphones pre-installed with its native ecosystem, Huawei Mobile Services (HMS), earlier this year, Huawei says the HMS devices have been “well-received” by South African consumers, and expects the trend to continue.

This, as the Chinese telecoms giant recently released its flagship smartphones line-up, the Huawei Mate 40 series, the latest offerings running on the new ecosystem.

Huawei Consumer Business Group SA CTO Akhram Mohamed notes the first HMS devices went on sale in March, and performed very well in the local market.

“Consumers can still use the popular apps on our HMS phones, which went to market at the beginning of the year and this is because we pay meticulous attention to our customers’ needs. After more than half a year, the Huawei ecosystem has already achieved big improvement and a lot of local important partners joined our eco-system, like the FNB banking app and Capitec remote banking, to name a few.”

The P40 lite and P40 series, which launched in May, are still popular among local consumers, according to Mohamed.

“We’ve also continued to provide different ranges of smartphones, namely the Y series, which gives consumers a more affordable option. Our smartphones have become very popular with local consumers. This is a testament to the loyalty of our local consumers, and the quality and innovation they associate with our brand.”

US restrictions

Huawei, which has enjoyed global smartphone growth, had to make way for its own ecosystem amid restrictions imposed by president Donald Trump’s administration on Google's trade with the company.

Google is banned from doing business with Huawei, which has meant no Google Mobile Services (GMS) for Huawei’s latest devices. GMS are the Google apps that often come pre-installed on Android devices.

In addition to introducing HMS, Huawei is charting plans to rolloutsmartphones running on its operating system, HarmonyOS, sometime next year.

Commenting on bringing devices sans GMS to the local market, Mohamed says launching a new ecosystem will always have challenges, regardless of market.

However, these can be overcome by offering viable, innovative solutions and engaging with consumers, he adds.

In terms of how the company has managed to navigate some of these challenges, the Huawei CTO points to continued investment in research and development, investment in the global developer community, as well as key local and international partnerships, which resulted in exponential growth in HMS adoption and capabilities.

“In 2019, HMS supported 14 kits and 885 APIs; in 2020, that has grown to 56 kits and 12 981 APIs. App Gallery has also grown to become the third-largest app market globally with almost 500 million monthly active users.”

Market dominance

Huawei, for the first time, overtook South Korean electronics company Samsung as the world’s biggest smartphone maker in Q2 2020, according to data from Canalys.

In July, the market analyst firm revealed Huawei shipped more smartphones worldwide than any other vendor in Q2 2020, indicating this marked the first quarter in nine years that a company other than Samsung or Apple has led the market.

According to Canalys, for the period under review, Huawei shipped 55.8 million devices, down 5% year-on-year (YOY), and second-placed Samsung shipped 53.7 million smartphones, a 30% fall against Q2 2019.

Locally, Huawei has enjoyed market dominance for a number of years.

However, the company now has to fight hard to maintain its user base, as other Chinese smartphone brands look to gain market share from their Chinese counterpart.

Over the last year, Vivo, Oppo and Tecno have officially launched their device offerings in the country. Taiwanese consumer electronics and smartphone manufacturer HTC also recently announced its re-entry into the market.

Amid the influx of new entrants, Mohamed points out Huawei has established a strong, respected brand in SA, which is focused on providing innovative technologies and a great customer experience.

“Over the years, our South African business has grown to become the second-largest smartphone manufacturer and continues to post YOY sales increases across our diverse product segments, thanks to the loyalty of our South African consumers.

“The smartphone market will always be competitive, both from a local and international perspective, especially for a market such as South Africa where factors like pricing play a big role in the purchase choice. We have products for everyone, from entry-level to mid-tier and higher-end, which makes Huawei a fierce competitor on all levels.”

SA remains a key market for Huawei, something Mohamed says is reflected in the broad selection of products it has so far introduced to the local market in 2020.

“From our flagship P40 series, including the ultra-high-end P40 Pro+ and SA’s most affordable 5G device in the P40 Lite 5G, we have demonstrated our commitment to the South African consumer,” he says. “This has also filtered into our broader device eco-system with the launch of our Matebook range and a host of audio and wearable products.

“We are also committed to customer service excellence, which can be seen in the investment in our Huawei customer stores in SA. Outside of that, our commitment to the SA market is reflected in our commitment to bring the best technologies in the country, in order to help the technology industry to grow,” he concludes.

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