(Yicai Global) June 6 -- One of the world's biggest mobile phone markets -- the US -- is the sole remaining frontier for Huawei Technologies Co., the largest telecoms equipment maker, to conquer. Huawei's sales in the country account for about 4 percent of its total.
American consumers know little about the Huawei brand, negative or positive, said analysts at market consultancy group Current Analysis. "They do not even know how to pronounce the word 'Huawei.'"
But now, Huawei is determined to tell a Forrest Gump-like story to the world: it is just a matter of time before it opens the door to the US market.
Shenzhen-based Huawei aims to overtake Samsung Electronics Co. and Apple Inc. within the next five years to become the biggest smartphone maker, with a market share of more than 25 percent, Mr. Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei's consumer electronics business, said at the Converge technology conference co-hosted recently by The Wall Street Journal and f.ounders in Hong Kong.
"We want to be the number-one smartphone maker in the world," Mr. Yu said. "It's a long distance race, and we have the patience."
Following the launch of its Nexus 6P in the US in partnership with Google, Huawei said it seeks to keep improving performance in that market.
"Our growth is mainly coming from the high-end, premium segment," Mr. Yu said. "If you want to be the leading vendor you have to lead in the high-end."
Clearly, to lead in the high-end, a global handset manufacturer must crack the US market. Huawei plans this year to roll out new Honor series products, distributed mainly through e-commerce channels, in the US. On top of that, the Huawei MateBook, a 2-in-1 laptop developed by Huawei with Microsoft Corp. and Intel Corp., will soon be available for sale in the US. In addition to traditional sales channels, MateBook will also be sold at nearly 100 Microsoft flagship stores across the US.
Huawei is closing the gap with Samsung and Apple in the global smartphone market, where overall growth has been slowing. Huawei's smartphone sales have been growing fast not only in China but also in Europe, the Middle East and other parts of the world. It seems that conquering the US market is critical for the firm to win the overall battle.
In the first quarter, Huawei's smartphone sales volume jumped 59 percent from a year earlier, while Samsung's remained almost flat and Apple's shrank 14 percent, according to research firm Gartner Inc. Huawei's market share in the quarter rose to 8.3 percent, behind Apple's 15 percent and Samsung's 23 percent.
While increasing its market share, Huawei has also been focusing more on high-end products, such as its latest flagship phone, the P9, which features a dual-lens camera it developed in cooperation with German optics company Leica Camera AG.
Mr. Yu said that Huawei's partnership with Leica is exclusive and long-term. He expects the collaboration to continue for at least the next five years.
He also said that Huawei is pushing further into new technologies such as virtual reality. Based on its partnership with Alphabet Inc.'s Google, which provides a VR software platform, the company plans to release a new VR-compatible smartphone this fall, he said.