Huawei takes aim at Oppo in smartphones

Huawei takes aim at Oppo in smartphones

Chinese tech giant Huawei Technologies aims to be the No.3 smartphone seller in Thailand in 2017 by passing fast-rising rival Oppo.

The company announced yesterday that it would double its investment budget for marketing and expanding distribution channels at the Thai unit next year.

"We aim to have a two-digit percentage of market share in Thailand next year, up from a single-digit level," said Tossaporn Nisthanon, deputy country director for the consumer business group at Huawei Thailand.

"This will improve Huawei's ranking from No.4 to No.3 next year, replacing Oppo, our home rival," he said.

Huawei ranks third in the global smartphone market after Samsung and Apple.

To boost market share, Huawei yesterday launched its premium Android-based Mate 9 smartphone in Thailand, positioning it to compete with Samsung and fill the void left by the troubled Galaxy Note 7, which was subject to a mass recall.

Mr Tossaporn said Huawei's smartphone market share in Thailand grew by three times in the first nine months of the year. Handset revenue surged by 200% year-on-year on solid sales of the premium flagship P9 smartphone.

The premium phone segment -- handsets selling for more than 15,000 baht -- accounted for 40% of Huawei's phone sales. Mid-range phones (5,000-15,000 baht) made up 40% of sales and the low end (below 5,000 baht) the remaining 20%.

"Thailand is a strong market for premium smartphones, thanks to high-performance and stylish design needs among high-end mobile users, especially in the replacement user segment," Mr Tossaporn said.

Huawei chose Thailand as the sole market in Southeast Asia to launch the Mate 9 smartphone, as Thai high-end consumers have strong purchasing power.

The high-performance Mate 9 comes in three different variations priced at 23,900, 27,900 and 49,900 baht.

"Huawei will go beyond brand awareness," Mr Tossaporn said. "Instead, we will use our brand as a marketing tool to increase our brand preference."

He said Thailand's smartphone market will continue to grow next year but at just 2-3%, with monthly sales volume of 1.2 million units.

Michael Jing, director of Huawei Thailand's consumer business group, said the company's consumer product revenue still contributes less than 10% of total revenue to the Thai operating unit.

The bulk of Huawei's revenue comes from telecom network products and fast-growing enterprise solutions.

"We aim to double revenue from the consumer product group in 2017," Mr Jing said.

Huawei also plans to launch next-generation wearable devices in the Thai market next year, he said.

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