Apple and Samsung’s domination of the smartphone market may be intimidating to smaller competitors, but the vice-president of the device division at Huawei believes the attitudes of its competitors offer his firm a way to win customers over.
Speaking at Huawei’s headquarters in Shenzhen, China, vice-president of marketing for devices, Shao Yang, compared the history of the wireless industry to the current crop of mobile manufacturers.
“My past thinking 15 years ago when I joined the wireless department was there were seven big giants beyond us [the likes of Alcatel-Lucent, Nokia, Ericsson]. When we came to the customer and said, 'We want to provide for you', they would say, 'Why do we need you? Everyone is better than you'. We were disappointed, tried to find our differentiaton, and found we have a difference in attitude," he said.
“Number one is Ericsson, always a good, smart leader. It takes you forward, it is the teacher that says, 'Listen to me, I am better than you'. Then Nokia says connecting people is the way it is doing business, [like saying], 'We are fair'.”
Yang said Huawei’s ethos, with slogans such as "realise your potential" and "innovation for you", showed it thought the customer was more important than the company, so if they didn’t feel like that elsewhere, they had another option.
“Apple is a little like the past Ericsson. I feel it is a little arrogant and thinks it can define everything and everyone. Some customers like this, some don’t,” he said.
"Samsung is like a rich, young, everything looks good guy, but it still needs to be closer with people. Although Samsung is successful, it doesn’t have the true loyalty of customers.
“We try to serve our customers, let them have more fun and a better experience. If we can remain this way, we will win some customers [who do] not like the Apple or Samsung [way].”
Technology for connecting people
But it will take more than good slogans and attitudes to convince customers. Yang admitted Samsung offered the best hardware on the market and Apple had the best software, but the growing importance of the connection quality was where he believed Huawei was the best.
“In the 4G [market], Huawei has the world’s best chipset to provide this,” he said. “That is why our mobile Wi-Fi [has] such a high percentage in market share [70% according to IDC].
“We understand the tech. Yes, maybe we don’t so much understand the user, and that is where we need to improve, but we think it with is the connection that we can help. Connecting people together better – that is the Huawei benefit to the industry.”
Yang continued to be open about the faults of Huawei’s device division, but with a similar attitude to that of Silicon Valley he claimed that what didn’t kill the firm made it stronger.
“Huawei is not a very serious company,” said Yang. “We accept some mistakes [were made] and with the mistakes we believe we can do more from this.
“For the D1 smartphone we tried to launch at Mobile World Congress last year, we chose a chipset that had a delay, so that phone was not successful, but with that delay we could optimise the chipset. Then with the D2, we tried to develop a very high-tech, high-speed device, but that made the phone very expensive and costing was too high for Huawei branding, which made it hard to sell.
“In the future, we believe we will make more mistakes in products, but we will then have innovation in more products,” he concluded.