Huawei looks to be a smartphone contender

Huawei Technologies Co. is looking to become a contender in the smartphone market, according to a report in today's Wall Street Journal. The Chinese company's main business has been network equipment, but its move into handsets has made it the third largest smartphone maker in the world, with a market share of 6.9% (up from 4.3% a year earlier), according to IDC figures published in the Journal. Market leader Samsung's market share stands at 25% (down from 32% a year earlier), while Apple commands a 12% share (down from 13% a year earlier).

In an interview with the Journal's Juro Osawa and Yun-Hee Kim, Richard Yu, the head of Huawei's consumer business group, explained that his company has made white label phones (sold under carriers' brands) for a decade or more but wanted to establish its own brand rather than continue to compete against other lower-cost, lower quality white-label devices.

He said that because Huawei supplies telecom equipment, it's well placed to build phones that work well when connecting to networks. He said his company employs about 2,000 people in its software team, which builds a user interface on top of Android. He said the company tried using Windows, adding, “But it has been difficult to persuade consumers to buy a Windows phone.” He further said the company has no plans to use the Tizen OS, nor does it plan to develop it's OS—citing the difficulty of building an ecosystem around it.

The Journal article points out that China's smartphone market is showing signs of saturation, but “Huawei is expanding rapidly in Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America.”

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