BARCELONA // Huawei will launch the next version of its P series smartphone alongside a “female version” of the Huawei Watch by the end of June, as it seeks to make inroads into the region’s lucrative premium device segment.
Ashraf Fawakherji, Huawei’s vice president for the Middle East, said that the new devices, together with a mid-range smartphone with a large battery capacity, will be unveiled in April and go on sale in the Middle East by the end of the second quarter.
Huawei is viewed as a budget and mid-range device maker, but Mr Fawakherji insisted that it was now being taken seriously as a maker of premium devices.
“Sales of the Mate 7 in the Middle East are the highest in the world outside of China and so far we’re getting the same positive response from the Mate 8,” he said.
“In three years we’ve achieved what has taken other brands 10 years. We think we’re on the right track,” he added.
The company has increased its marketing spending in the region in an attempt to target high-end consumers, sponsoring next month’s Arab Fashion Week in Dubai, building on its marketing presence at sports and music events. Huawei’s device shipments across the Middle East grew by 44 per cent during the past year, with Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait the company’s largest markets in the region.
Thanks to Huawei’s success in the budget and mid-range segment it has become the third largest smartphone manufacturer in the world behind Samsung and Apple, with a global market share of 8.1 per cent at the end of last year, according to the industry analysts IDC. “They’ve come up with the right products, the right price point, with an excellent marketing campaign and amazing channel distribution and incentives,” said Nabila Popal, a research director at IDC in Dubai.
Mr Fawakherji dismissed the threat from smaller budget manufacturers, who have recently eaten into Huawei’s market share. “Customers may buy these phones but they’ll only do it one time, because there’s a big issue with quality,” he said.
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