Huawei seeks to shed image of cheap phone maker in US
Mar 15,2015 0 Comments
Two years after US legislators branded it a national security threat, China’s Huawei Technologies Co is planning a campaign to win over US consumers, rolling out new mobile phones and wearable devices backed by a marketing effort.
China’s second-largest smartphone maker, already with more than $40 billion in annual revenue from a wide range of telecom gear and products, is preparing to introduce Americans to several of its smartphones and wearable devices in 2015, including its youth-oriented “Honor” phone, Huawei officials told media.
The company’s 2015 US plans, which have not been previously reported, will encompass traditional advertising, online promotion and sports team sponsorships, said Huawei’s US spokesman Bill Plummer.
Huawei is changing its approach to marketing as it tries to shed its image as a purveyor of cheap technology products; a common perceptual issue for many Chinese companies. It’s an important shift for a company that for years had been single-mindedly focused on engineering and relatively dismissive of consumer branding.
In December, it touted its new Honor 6 Plus phone on a billboard in New York’s Times Square. Plummer said that was “a sign of things to come.”
He declined to say how much Huawei will spend on its new marketing campaign or what sports team, or teams, it had in mind. It already sponsors London soccer club Arsenal, cricket teams in India and rugby clubs in Australia.
On the eve of the Mobile World Congress held in in Barcelona, Huawei took the wraps off a smartwatch that will be sold in over 20 countries including the US.
Huawei now intends to appeal directly to consumers with several new phone models, both low-end and high-end. It hopes to secure deals with carriers, selling online through marketplaces, such as the one operated by Amazon.com, and on its own fledgling gethuawei.com US direct-sales website.
It’s unclear how open the carriers, who dominate US sales, would be to carrying phones from Huawei, a brand that remains unknown to the majority of US smartphone users. Reviews of its high-end phones, which can cost hundreds of dollars without a plan, have been generally positive.
Still, the US market is dominated by Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics. None of the four biggest US carriers – Verizon, AT&T, Sprint or T-Mobile – currently sell Huawei phones on their websites and all declined to say whether they have had talks with the Chinese company.
Huawei said in 2013 it would focus on other markets after its products were labeled a national security risk in a US Congressional report, which said the Chinese government could use Huawei equipment for spying. Huawei rejected the report, but Chief Executive Ren Zhengfei, who founded the company after leaving the Chinese military, told reporters at the time he felt stuck in a US-China trade war.
A White House-ordered review found no evidence of spying.
Lawmakers’ concerns revolve primarily around Huawei’s networking equipment. And analysts say that a lack of brand recognition is a bigger hurdle for Huawei’s smartphone ambitions than pressures from the US government.
Huawei currently has less than 1 percent of the US market, according to research firm IDC. But it can perhaps draw inspiration from China’s ZTE Corp, which has gained 6.4 percent of the US market by selling cheaper smartphones and working with second-tier carriers like Boost Mobile, according to Ramon Llamas, a research manager at IDC.
Huawei’s plan to broaden its US offering is part of a campaign for “normalizing” perceptions of Huawei in America and elsewhere, said Plummer.
Other Chinese companies still prefer that route: another major Chinese handset maker, Xiaomi, has said it will take its first steps onto US soil without smartphones, choosing instead to sell earphones and other accessories to test the market.
– to partner with Etisalat for Network 20
China’s telecom giant Huawei and the United Arab Emirates’ Etisalat have said in Abu Dhabi that they would jointly develop a framework and architecture for end-to-end network for the years 2020 onwards.
Huawei and Etisalat aim to combine their forces for the scheme Network 2020 which is a vision that comprises of a number of technology advancements like virtualization, software defined networks, ultra high speed networks, cloud and other technologies.
“End users will be able to enjoy existing and innovative new ICT (information and communication technology) services more rapidly and with the best reliability and quality,” the two firms said in a joint e-mailed statement.
“The idea for Network 2020 was formalized during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona which took place from March 2 – 5,” the statement added.
Etisalat is the most valuable company in the UAE. Huawei has supported Etisalat on a number of projects, including a joint cooperation plan to explore and deploy super-speed 5Gmobile broadband services. – Agencies