Huawei, a company hardly known to consumers just two years ago has made some impressive strides over the past 12 months in the region and beyond. We connect with Mr. Jiao Jian, President of Huawei Device Middle East, to see how the new kid on the block plans to take on the challenge of keeping its place amongst some of the world’s largest mobile brands.
While Huawei’s gaining a name for itself internationally, consumers in the region are still relatively unaware of them. What is the local office of Huawei doing to promote the brand regionally?
The consumer device industry is a competitive business, and coming in as a challenger brand has been both an exciting as well as challenging journey. Cultivating deeper relationships with local distributors, retailers and telecom operators has been crucial in the advancement of our brand as you can now see Huawei in more and more locations across the region.
Being engaged in regional technology festivals and trade shows has also been important for us to connect with the public—be it individual consumers, businesses, media, and so forth. And finally, the recruitment of leading regional marketing and advertising professionals—both externally and internally—has also been invaluable in helping us share the Huawei story with more and more people in the region.
From your research, what is it that attracts a buyer to a mobile phone in the region?
People in the GCC generally have a high level of disposable income and tend to be early adopters of consumer products—whether that is in fashion, cars, or things like smartphones. As a result of that, we have seen a greater public willingness to experiment with new concepts within the smartphone space. Phone size is, for example, one of the features where people here are quite eager to test devices that lay outside the norm, evident in the high demand for hybrid smartphone & tablet offerings.
Additionally, we have found that simplicity in functionality is a high priority for the local consumer. There are a lot of devices out there with novel applications and features, but if they do not make the user experience more intuitive and easier, they are likely to face resistance in the market and ultimately be dropped after a very short period of time.
In such a fast-paced consumer environment, what is the process for brands like Huawei to plan for new handset?
You often start from a single market insight. This could be an idea relevant to consumers, service providers, retailers, or the technology developers. You then take into consideration specific local market demands and see where that insight is going to add value to consumers’ daily lives. Product design, manufacturing and marketing all follow from these two factors.
I personally think that any good developer will not be rattling their head on how to simply make a product different, but rather how that difference will make life simpler for the end consumer.
Huawei is still on that journey from what we call “mass-market growth” to “quality growth”. Our handset designs will increasingly take their cues from local market insights to deliver that premium mobile experience.
How much of an advantage does being an infrastructure provider for mobile networks give Huawei when designing a handset?
Huawei has in fact established end-to-end capabilities in providing solutions for telecom operators, enterprise customers and individual consumer. Leveraging that heritage in the device realm has given us the ability to custom design our own quad-core processors for select smartphone models. We have also been able to implement proprietary battery saving technology which keeps you on-the-go more than 30% longer than the industry average. In the field of LTE, we were further able to use our expertise from the telecom industry to develop the world’s first smartphone with LTE Category 4 compatibility, the Ascend P2—providing an ultrafast web experience with download speeds of up to 150 Mbps.
Huawei recently established its first Middle East IT Competence Center. What was the reasoning behind that?
One of the qualities that sets us apart from the competition in all these sectors is that Huawei is fundamentally an R&D company. Nearly half of our 150,000 employees globally are engaged in this field, pioneering new technologies in innovation centers spread across the globe. Tapping into local market knowledge is very important. It’s for this reason that we have established Global Huawei Competence Centers in places like India, Europe and the USA—and now the Middle East IT this past month—to support the advancement of the region’s overall ICT industries while acting as an excellence hub partnering with universities, governments and the private sector.