Huawei to enter UK phone market

Updated: 2011-08-13 09:38

By Jonathan Browning (China Daily)

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Huawei to enter UK phone market
Visitors experience Huawei Technologies Co Ltd's cloud computing mobile phone at the company's booth at the Global Mobile Internet Conference in Beijing. Huawei is to sell its own-brand mobile phone in the United Kingdom.[Photo/China Daily]

The handset maker will introduce its own-brand "Blaze" model next month

LONDON - Huawei Technologies Co plans to sell its first own-brand mobile phone in the United Kingdom, taking on manufacturers using Google Inc's Android software in one of Europe's most competitive handset markets.

Having initially focused on making handsets for carriers, China's largest phone-equipment supplier will introduce the "Blaze" device as early as next month. Huawei is targeting a market share of 4 percent to 5 percent within 12 months, said Mark Mitchinson, the company's UK executive vice-president.

"We're trying to establish the brand, almost from scratch," said Mitchinson, in an interview in London. Huawei will compete with "anyone involved in Android".

Huawei's push into the UK, following its first mobile network deal in the country in May, marks the company's biggest step into devices in western Europe. Sales outside China accounted for 65 percent of Huawei's 2010 revenue. Sales abroad grew three times faster than in its home market.

Huawei, benefitting from the rising popularity of Android, will compete with other manufacturers who use the software. LG Electronics Inc and Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications AB, the two smallest major brands in the UK, both use the system, which was the best-selling smartphone platform in the second quarter after a fourfold increase in global sales, Gartner said on Thursday.

"We are seeing other players that unfortunately will continue to be challenged and Sony Ericsson is one of those," said Roberta Cozza, a UK-based analyst at Gartner Inc. Huawei has about 1 percent share of the UK device market and that may rise to 3 percent in a year, Cozza said.

Brand awareness

Huawei will need to invest "very heavily" to compete with HTC Corp, Asia's second-largest phone maker, which also initially suffered from lack of brand awareness, she said. "The problem they have is the brand. It's a limitation for them."

The "Blaze" handset is likely to compete with lower-priced smartphones that sell for as little as 100 pounds ($162), Cozza said.

Huawei also plans to sell tablet computers including the MediaPad and Vision in the UK, where more than one in four adults already has a smartphone, which can play video clips and download corporate e-mail.

Huawei will seek the support of operators including Vodafone Group Plc, Mitchinson said.

Huawei aims to boost its handset sales to $20 billion in five years, from $6 billion this year, the company said in April. The Shenzhen, Guangdong Province-based company reported revenue of about $29 billion last year

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