Till a couple of years back, Huawei may not have been a familiar brand for end consumers but the Chinese Behemoth has had a very strong B2B presence for a very long time. Founded in 1987, Huawei became the world’s largest telecommunications equipment manufacturer by pushing Ericsson to the second spot in the year 2012. Since 2005, it is the only major Chinese player to be earning more revenue abroad than in China.
Huawei believes in innovation and last year they filed the most number of patent applications. They filed 3,898 patents in 2015 and topped the global list for the second consecutive year.
At a time, where smartphone sales are showing saturation in different parts of the world, Huawei posted a brisk 40 percent growth in Smartphone sales in the first half of 2016! Along the way, Huawei has had many successes to celebrate and in this article, we will reflect on their Smartphone journey thus far.
Huawei announced their first smartphone IDEOS with Google in September 2010. After that, they launched Huawei Ascend in October 2011 which ran on Android 2.1 and was followed by several other Ascend series smartphones that were launched in homeland China.
The company introduced IDEOS in India in 2011 which was the first Android Smartphone in India. However, Huawei got its first significant hit with the Ascend Mate, a massive 6.1-inch display Phablet with a 4050mAh battery. This was way back in 2013 when even 5-inch phones were considered ‘Big’ and thus the Mate’s uncustomary, audacious size made it appealing.
Huawei couldn’t cash in on this initial momentum, though, and failed to convince consumers to shell out a mid-range price for a ‘Chinese’ brand. The tables turned later with its online sub-brand Honor’s advent in India (more on that in a bit).
Globally, Huawei firsts caught everyone’s attention with its Ascend P6, whose ticket to fame was it “World’s slimmest smartphone” title tag (6.1mm thick). It didn’t hold the crown much long, but and Huawei never really ran in the ‘Slimmest smartphone race’ post the P6 (since anything slimmer than P6 often involves many other compromises), but till date, it’s ‘P series’ smartphone which prioritize design continue to be bestsellers. Huawei is also expected to launch the latest P9 with dual rear cameras in the next 10 days in the Indian market.
Huawei P9 is the first phone to feature a dual camera setup from Leica and this might be one of the biggest leap in smartphone photography.
Huawei’s Honor series was another major breakthrough for the brand in India. The first Honor handset to sell in India in association with online retailer Flipkart, the Honor Holly, clicked well with budget conscious buyers. It was the first phone to offer a 5-inch HD display for under 7,000 INR.
A few weeks later Huawei introduced the Honor 6 which received rave reviews for its camera and display quality. After Honor 6, the company introduced Honor 6 Plus which had the world’s first parallel dual rear camera setup.
Both the handset continues to retail even today in both online and offline markets. Other notable releases that helped shaping Honor’s journey so far include Honor 7, Honor 5X and the recently launched Honor 5C. By the end of 2015, Honor had already sold over 40 Million phones in 74 countries including Japan, India, and European nations. Not bad for the first year or so, right?
Kirin Soc, EMUI software
Along the way, Huawei also introduced swanky gadgets like the Huawei Watch and the popular TalkBand fitness wearable, but its biggest break came last year when the company had the “honor” of bringing in the Nexus 6P in association with Google. Let’s give you some context first to help you better gauge the size of this accomplishment.
With the lukewarm reception of Nexus 6, critics had already started writing off the need for the Nexus series. As we approached the Nexus launch last year opinions and editorials asserting the futility of the Nexus Lineup started pouring in from all direction.
It was in this hostile environment where Huawei proved its metal and turned the tables around. The new Nexus 6p was a thoroughly impressive handset that evoked admiration from critics and rekindled the lost passion among Android fans. The Nexus 6P success ultimately helped Huawei become a household name globally.
Huawei’s success story wasn’t a cake-walk, though. It had to struggle with aspects like software and efficiency of its Kirin smartphone SoCs, but with its persistent efforts for perfection, it has successfully overcome these hurdles.
Huawei sold 108 Million smartphones in 2015 earning an annual revenue of $20 Billion dollars, and it is showing no signs of slowing down. Huawei is no longer “just another Chinese brand”. It is one of the rare few brands from China that exudes quality and deep-rooted values rather than emanating cost-efficient-alternative-product vibes.