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In Focus

“We Aim for 15% Market Share”
Victor Shan, President India, Device Business Development, Huawei
Issue Date - 21/07/2011
Huawei, a leading telecom equipment manufacturer is planning to tap the growing smartphone market in India. The company, known mainly for its B2B products, has launched three smart- phones recently and is planning to expand its portfolio shortly. Tablets are also on the cards. Akhilesh Shukla of Business & Economy talks to Victor Shan, President India, Device Business Development, Huawei about his company’s India plans and targets

B&E: Huawei has been operating in the B2B space, even in the handset segment. What made you to go direct to the customer with the launch of smartphones?
Victor Shan (VS): The handset market in India is huge and witnessing a handsome growth. Last year 170 million units of handsets were shipped into the country, a large part of which were smartphones. Indian customers do not buy products bundled with services, unlike in the US and Europe. As a result, we at Huawei have decided to go direct to the customer with our smartphone devices. These phones will be available for sale in 10 cities through our national distributors Redington and Ingram Micro. We are confident that our new 3.5G phones will receive a good response in metros and tier II cities.

B&E: Huawei, as a handset brand, is largely unknown in India. What is your marketing strategy to promote Huawei as a handset brand?
VS: It is not that we are completely unknown to telecom subscribers in India. We have been reaching to the end customer through our data cards, available with all the major Internet service provider in India. In the early stage of our lunch we are planning to promote our handsets on digital platform as we are targeting urban youth with access to the Internet and social networking websites, including Facebook and Twitter. Further, we will promote the handsets at all the retail outlets where we are present. Talks are in an advanced stage to tie up with a leading large format retail outlet. After the completion of the first phase of the smartphone launch we will hit the mainstream media.

B&E: The after-sales service is a key requirement to surviving in the competitive handset industry. How you are planning to offer post-sale service support to Huawei’s smartphone customers?
VS: We already have authorised post-sale service centres in India for our data cards and set-top boxes. These service centres cater to the needs of the customers of  25 million Huawei devices sold in the India market so far. We have around 350 authorised post-sale service centres spread across India. Besides, we have specialised service centres at the regional level. Other than that, Huawei has two high level service centres as well. As we grow further we will add up more service centres to cater to the needs of our customers.

B&E: Every handset player is planning to launch tablets, as they are expected to be the next mass device in the market. When will we see Huawei launching tablets in India?
VS: We have ambitious plans for launching our tablets for the Indian market. Our tablets will compete with Tier II tablet brands in the market. In India we will launch two tablets in the Q3 2011 with competitive pricing, as it is a price-sensitive market. The top device will be priced at sub Rs.25,000 and the other at sub Rs.20,000. These tablets will come pre-loaded with our application store - HISPACE - with Indian specific content developed at our Bangalore R&D unit.

B&E: Indian consumers have a mindset that Chinese brands lack quality. How will you fight that perception in our country?
VS: The quality and functionality of our smartphone is on a par with any of the devices available in the market worldwide. Huawei is a global brand, not any Shanghai based run of the mill kind of manufacturer out of China. Today we have operations in 140 countries across the globe. By the end of 2010, we invested CNY 16,556 million in R&D, an increase of over 24.1% YoY. We have 20 research centres, including one in India and 20 joint innovation centres across the globe. As many as 46% of the total work force is engaged in R&D activities.

B&E: In the handset segment in India, what is the market share you are looking at?
VS: Globally we have a small market share in the handset segment. But in the CDMA handset segment we command a handsome market share of 30%. In India, by the end of 2013 we are looking at a market share between 5% and 7 % in smartphones. We aim to become the top five players in the segment. By 2015 we are aiming for a 15% share in the smartphone market.

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