The International Data Corporation (IDC) has released its figures of how the mobile market performed last year. Top on the list of the vendors that shipped the most device are the usual guys (Samsung and Apple) but of great interest is the growth of Huawei which still maintains its third position despite stiff competition from the likes of LG, Lenovo and resurgent Nokia in 2013. In fact, it managed to grow its smartphone shipment by almost one percentage point to stand at 4.9% of all smartphones shipped last year up from 4% back in 2012.
Of the 1 billion smartphones shipped last year, Huawei accounted for about 48 million. That may be a small figure when compared to the likes of Apple and Samsung who shipped 153 million and 313 million smartphones respectively but when you figure in the 29 million smartphones Huawei shipped in 2012, you realize how big that is. It represents a 67.5% year over year growth and is an indicator of things to come if the Chinese company sticks to the no-compromise strategy it adopted when it brought to the market the first 6-inch phablet (Ascend Mate) and one of the most beautiful smartphones of 2013, the Ascend P6.
What can we expect Huawei to do different this year? Quite a lot. For instance they’ve not yet gone all out on tablets. Recent surveys have put Samsung Galaxy tablets as the most popular and widely used Android tablets in the market. That is understandable since Samsung was the first to try go head-on with the Apple iPad’s then undisputed hold on the tablet market. While the numbers still favour the iPad, the emergence of budget tablets from some no-name manufacturers and some reputable but affordable ones like the Google Nexus 7 have totally changed the dynamics. Samsung realized this and this year they released the Galaxy Tab 3 Lite to lure the budget buyer. We’ve seen Huawei act swiftly by announcing the MediaPad Youth2 but that is not enough, we need to see more of the company’s presence in the tablet scene. Rival Lenovo is on a roll with Windows 8 tablets and while Huawei could try get into that too, it could use its strong footing on the Android platform to its own advantage and turn around things this year.
Talking of Windows 8, there is the Windows Phone market that Huawei does not have a strong presence yet. Though Nokia is all dominating, Huawei can come in and try to match Nokia’s budget offerings. The likes of the W1 clearly show that Huawei can play here well and it just needs to be more aggressive and take on the Lumia 520, 525 and whatever Nokia has in store for the budget conscious consumer this year (including that rumoured Nokia X/Normandy). Afterall the ASP for smartphones is expected to either stay put or dip a bit this year. It is the differentiation that will matter and Huawei of all OEMs out there has both the resources and the required mettle to do this. Marketing-wise, that Arsenal-Huawei deal could be the starting point of a huge presence in Europe and around the world. We have a year to see what comes of it.