With over 100 million shipments, China's Huawei was the fastest growing major smartphone vendor in 2015. But can it continue to grow as it targets the established Western markets? Ivor Bennett reports from the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
In the rush for new technology, their presence is hard to ignore. The fastest growing major smartphone vendor of 2015, Huawei is centre stage at this year's Mobile World Congress. Executive Vice President Colin Giles. SOUNDBITE (English) COLIN GILES, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, HUAWEI CONSUMER GROUP, SAYING: "If any player globally wants to be serious, to be a world leader, you've got to have China." Huawei certainly has that. Their high-volume, low-margin strategy helped ship 108 million handsets last year, up 44 percent on 2014. And Giles says it won't stop there, even with China's slowdown. SOUNDBITE (English) COLIN GILES, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, HUAWEI CONSUMER GROUP, SAYING: "You know I think that actually works to our advantage. Because we've got a lot of momentum on our side right now, and we've got a really good efficient machine that's working." To challenge the big guns though that machine may need to change, says Gartner's Roberta Cozza. Especially when it comes to Western markets. SOUNDBITE (English) ROBERTA COZZA, RESEARCH DIRECTOR, GARTNER, SAYING: "The majority of the user base already owns a premium smartphone. It's a replacement market mainly. So users are very knowledgeable, they know what they want, and in their replacement intention they would look for innovation." The Google-partnered Nexus 6P is designed to address that. A slow-motion camera earning reviews that rival the iPhone's. Then there's the new Matebook, a Windows hybrid with a pressure-sensitive stylus. But in many cases, says USwitch's Rob Kerr, the message just isn't coming across. SOUNDBITE (English) ROB KERR, MOBILES EXPERT, USWITCH, SAYING: "It just needs the consumer to be aware of them, and then from that, there's a big tie-in, the networks to be aware of them, to list their phones, to retail their phones, to put it in the mind of the consumers and in the hands of the consumers more importantly." For now, Huawei remains a distant third. Its 7.5 percent share of the global market still three times less than Samsung's.