Huawei claims third in smartphones, aims at Apple

by Steve Blum • , ,

Huawei knuckles down on smartphones.

From barely a blip on the radar – 3 million units – five years ago, Huawei broke out of the pack in 2015 with 108 million smartphones sold and a 10% share of the global market. That keeps it in third place worldwide, behind Apple and market leader Samsung, which has a 28% share. Speaking at the company’s press conference at CES this morning, consumer business group CEO Richard Yu said they’re aiming to pass Apple – currently with a 12% global smartphone share – and move up a notch into the number two spot within two years. Overall, Huawei’s consumer division did more than $20 billion in business last year.

From relative anonymity three years ago, Huawei has built brand awareness to the 76% level and ranks 88th on the list of the world’s most valuable brands, according to Yu.

It’s not doing it with low end, mass production products alone. The head of Huawei’s handset business, Kevin Ho, demoed a $750 smartphone and a $450 tablet at the event.

Battery life is Huawei’s primary product differentiator, it seems. It’s leveraging its chipmaking capability to focus on extending big screen smartphone use time to two days, making it possible to spend a long, intensive day on power hungry 4G networks without recharging. Ho said that Huawei’s Kirin 950 ARM-based, 16 nanometer system-on-a-chip is optimised for power efficiency.

Huawei still lags in the U.S. market, but from a global perspective that’s becoming less and less important. It’s partnering with Google on Nexus devices, and focusing the launch of the latest version of its flagship phone – the Mate 8 – on an eclectic list of a couple dozen countries where it’s gained more traction.