Huawei eyes top spot in SA's smartphone market

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Huawei's P Smart 2019 smartphone lands in stores across SA on 1 February.
Huawei's P Smart 2019 smartphone lands in stores across SA on 1 February.

Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei wants to be the number one smartphone provider in SA, if not by the end of 2019, then by 2020.

This is according to Akhram Mohammed, product marketing director for Huawei SA, speaking at the unveiling of the latest P Smart series smartphone to local media yesterday.

Mohammed explains: "Our confidence is coming from the products we have, the market and data coming in from third-parties.

"Across all price bands right up to $800 and above, Huawei is either number one or number two. When we are number two, according to data from GFK, the gap is so small that we think we can break through very quickly.

"If we are already number one in certain segments, we will continue to maintain that, and will work on the others. If we work on the others and go on to become number one - that takes us to number one in the country."

Making the right moves

Arthur Goldstuck, MD of World Wide Worx, believes Huawei's aim for the number one spot may not happen this year, but the brand is in a position to take the lead over the next 24 months.

He explains: "Huawei already has two of the five most critically acclaimed handsets in the local market, namely the P20 Pro and Mate 20 Pro. Samsung comes close with the Galaxy Note 9 and the Galaxy S9 and S9+. Both will be launching their latest flagship smartphones in the second half of February, so it is a very close race.

"Samsung has the advantage of having deep penetration across its range, especially in the mid-range and high-end. Huawei is beginning to win at the high-end because of lower pricing for more features. Its new DewDrop Display device is expected to gobble up a big chunk of the mid-range this year, and it continues to play a strong game at the entry-level. Samsung's mid-range will, however, keep expanding, so the market is a moving target."

Market research firm TrendForce's projections show that despite the market pressure, Huawei will continue to perform well in the first quarter of 2019. Last year, Huawei rose in global rankings by displacing Apple to become the second biggest smartphone maker.

According to Goldstuck, Huawei is making all the right moves, and could displace Samsung if it continues its current momentum in terms of high-tech, high-quality and cutting-edge design at more accessible prices.

"The top of the range is not cheap, though. If it cuts similar deals with operators to what LG, for example, has done with the new V40 at R12 500 via Vodacom, it could clean up at the high-end. LG is also a good example of bundling, offering a second, mid-tier, free phone with the V40. However, Samsung will not just lie down and let Huawei walk over it, and we can expect a very vigorous battle for market share. The consumer can expect to benefit."

Next P Smart

Yesterday, Huawei revealed the P Smart 2019, which features a 6.21-inch DewDrop display, a dual artificial intelligence camera and is powered by the Kirin 710 chipset.

Available in SA stores on 1 February, the P Smart 2019 is the successor to the P Smart 2018 device, which was introduced to South African consumers early last year.

The P Smart series is Huawei's affordable smartphone devices, ranging at recommended retail prices of R3 999 and R4 999.

According to Mohammed, this new series of devices has garnered "extreme popularity" among South African customers.

"Our P Smart customers, those that have purchased in the past and those willing to purchase in future, are between the ages of 18 and 35 years old. What we found...the primary customers are either switching from a Samsung device or they had a Huawei before and just want to upgrade to the next phone."

Commenting on the $200 and $400 price band, Mohammed reveals Huawei is number one because of the P Smart series.

"Huawei has engineered the Huawei P Smart 2019 to be extremely durable. The various components have been rigorously tested in Huawei's testing facilities. For instance, both the power button and fingerprint sensor can withstand 200 000 triggers and still work great."

The Huawei P Smart 2019 will be available at a recommended retail price of R4 999 at all operators and selected retailers. It will be available in midnight black and aurora blue.

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