How Huawei is planning to topple biggies like Samsung and Apple in India
For almost a decade, the global smartphone industry has been solely dominated by Apple and Samsung. However, in the last three years so, the market shares of Chinese smartphone manufacturers such as Huawei, have been steadily growing, especially in emerging markets. The key highlight happened earlier this year, in July, when Huawei beat Apple to become the second largest smartphone brand globally. To understand and gain insight behind this giant leap, we caught up with Allen Wang, the director of Huawei Product Development Center in India, at Goa during the launch of Huawei's Honor 9i.

According to Allen Wang, there is only one secret behind Huawei's success- constant innovation. "In the past 10 or 20 years, numerous Chinese feature phone brands came to Indian, only to disappear soon. A lot of companies are looking for opportunities in emerging markets like India, but what we learned is that only the companies that kept innovating survived," said Wang.

"Our dream is to become the number one in the world, and to get there we have to deliver good products", noted Allan Wang. In fact, Huawei's recent investments in R&D is in line with Allen Wang's words. They have invested billions of dollars in research in recent years, making them one of the top 10 companies when it comes to investments in R&D.

Not competing with Oppo and Vivo

"We learned that only good products can convince the people, to accept your brand, not a just huge investment in marketing or the cheap price," he added. In fact, Huawei's business model seems to be the opposite of its fellow Chinese smartphone rivals in India, notable Vivo and Oppo, who are notable for their large-scale marketing campaigns and billboard advertisements. "You will fail if you stop innovating, even if you are the market leader," Wang pointed to the ill fate suffered by once industry leaders, Nokia and Blackberry.

Huawei has 16 R&D centers globally, in various countries in order to get the best that particular country can offer according to Wang. Its R&D center in India focuses on software while the one the US is responsible for its chipset line while the design center in Paris focuses on the industrial design and looks of its gadgets.

"If you saw our journey in last few years you will understand our focus on innovation. We were the first to introduce a dual camera phone - the Honor 6 plus, and last month, in IFA, our CEO launched the first AI chipset, the Kirin 970," he pointed out.

And Wang is right, Huawei beat Apple to the punch by 2 years in releasing a dual camera phone. It even beat Apple to announcing a mobile SoC with an AI core earlier this year. That being said, Apple's A11 bionic processor is already shipping in the new iPhones, while Huawei's Kirin 970 is rumoured to be coming in the Ascend Mate 10 Pro later in the year.

India remains a challenge, but AI could be key

Even though Huawei is now the second largest smartphone brand, new challenges lie ahead in becoming number one. "Innovation has no end, that is the long-term journey, we do believe that our company's DNA is always trying to become the best," said Wang. "We keep investing and also we are trying to look at what is the next generation of phones are going to be like," he raises an important question.

According to Huawei, the next generation of smartphones will be 'intelligence based devices', a statement that echoes with Sundar Pichai's AI first-world notion. "We call it intelligent phones, and we are trying to become the leader in the next generation of smartphones.You need a lot of R&D, thinking but we do believe we are in that position," added Wang.

He even hinted that the AI capabilities to Honor phones will be added this year. Only last year, the company had unveiled the Honor Magic phone for the China market but this year it seems like it will make a big push.

"In very-very short time, I cannot leak more information, but I think a quarter maximum, it will come to Honor phones and that will be very exciting," he said.