Huawei, a Chinese company- born and founded in Shenzhen- has rose in a very short time to become a global leader in ICT solutions and is transforming its enterprise services strategy with the introduction of several channel services policies and programs across the world. Today, Huawei’s products and services are available in more than 170 countries, and are used by a third of the world’s population, placed third in the world in mobile phone shipments in 2016.
Aside from advanced technology, Huawei has beaten all odds and sets an industry benchmark for style and colour of new revolutionary devices. Especially for its Middle Eastern customers, a new Artificial Intelligence Strategy will focus on: evolving smart devices into intelligent devices by building end-to-end capabilities that support coordinated development of chipsets, devices and the cloud.
Here we speak to Rex Liu, President of Huawei Consumer Business Group Levant Region as he walks us through the company’s strategy focus on customers in the Middle East, Huawei’s new innovations that give the consumer a better experience and its promising future.
Tell us more about the Huawei brand, its products and its achievements in the Middle East region so far.
Huawei was established 30 years ago, with a mission to enrich life through communication; and today it has become a global leader in telecommunication, and a serious contender for the big tech giants. With increasing brand influence, it has become one of the world’s most valuable brands. Also one must mention that it is the first Chinese company to ship more than 100 million smartphones.
As for the brand performance, here are some facts:
- #2 Smartphone market share in the MEA region at 13.8% (GFK report H1).
- 27% growth in our brand awareness in the UAE – 2015 – 17 (Ipsos).
- 25% growth in Brand awareness in KSA – 2015 – 17(Ipsos).
We have a mix of several series to match all consumers’ preferences, including The Y series, The Nova series, The P series and our flagship products the Mate 10 Series that we recently launched in the Middle East with amazing key features that will dazzle our clients.
What advantages do you feel Huawei products have over other comparable products?
The Huawei brand is built on four principals: management philosophy, product innovation, commitment on quality, and think global act local.
As for Huawei’s products, they are setting new standards and uniqueness in so many ways such as the Mate 10 Series that we recently launched, which incarnates a series of firsts:
- The World’s First AI Processor Inside a Smartphone
- The World’s First AI-Powered Photography Technology
- The World’s Longest Battery Life
- The World’s First TÜV Safety Certified Charging Technology
- The World’s Fastest 4.5G Experience
Huawei is committed to turning smart devices into intelligent devices by building end-to-end capabilities that support coordinated development of chips, devices, and the AI cloud.
We focus on User Experience; Huawei added a layer of AI to Mate 10 smartphones which created a more organic interaction between people and their devices. This impacted the entire user experience, from efficiency to photography and security.
The Kirin 970 in Huawei Mate 10 Series provides:
- Intelligent performance
- Intelligent photography
- Intelligent power
What has been your market strategy for the region?
Huawei CBG was established in 2011 in the Middle East region, and has now a strong position in the region.
Firstly, thanks to the great consumer reception of our diverse portfolio of products, second our strategic partnerships and lastly being customer first.
Tell us how did Huawei make this possible?
By Bringing meaningful innovation to this region: World’s 1st Leica dual camera, supercharge with TUV certification and Kirin AI processor.
Consumer centric in MEA: opened 47 dedicated customer service centers in the region.
Continuous investment: 1st Huawei Flagship Store Launching at Dubai Mall in Oct 2017.
Local innovative collaborations:
- Partnership with The Executive Council to become one of the first smartphone companies to adopt the Dubai Font in OS in 27 languages.
- Aligned to UAE Happiness Agenda – Happiness meter in Huawei customer service centers to measure customer happiness in real time and interact immediately to solve problems.
Can you tell us more about the newly applied photography standards? Why focus so much on Leica?
Taking daily pictures has become a norm; we capture moments and share them with the world. Photography skills are no longer a must, as long as you have your smart device with its fully equipped camera, you are good to go. Therefore, the need of consumers today is to not only have a smartphone with the best features, but also to have a super intelligent camera. To answer their needs, Huawei has invested time, effort and craft to create an innovative smart camera that will take photography to the next level.
As a result, Huawei partnered with Leica, a premium camera manufacturer with more than 100 years as the leader in the world of imaging. Since the launch of the p9, they offered a new and improved dual-lens camera technology that sets a new standard in smartphone photography. Huawei and Leica have now a joint lab and they are pioneer in the world of smartphone photography.
And the newest update is the New Leica Dual Camera in Huawei Mate 10 series with SUMMILUX-H lenses, featuring an aperture of f/1.6. The cameras have 12-megapixel RGB + 20-megapixel monochrome dual sensors with an Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) solution to help you capture more light, and to enable perfectly focused pictures of everyone and everything you love.
HUAWEI and Leica co-engineered the new dual lens camera that utilizes the world’s most advanced photographic technology to create artistic photos in Leica image style.
AI Features on the photography level:
- AI-powered Real-Time Scene and Object Recognition: which automatically chooses camera settings based on the object and scene, supports an advanced AI-powered Digital Zoom.
- Snapshots with AI Motion Detection for clearer portraits and sharper pictures.
In your opinion, what are consumers looking for in a mobile phone, and specifications that mostly interest them?
Consumers usually look for a mobile phone that has a good speed in processing the apps, a long lasting battery, a long life (no need to replace the phone every couple of years), super good camera that takes beautiful pictures regardless of the light and movement conditions, big storage and definitely an elegant design.
In short, they are interested in mind challenging devices, yet practical and modern ones.
For that reason, Huawei brings them the world’s first truly intelligent devices, the HUAWEI Mate 10 and HUAWEI Mate 10 Pro — two new devices that define the next era of mobile. In the last decade, we’ve witnessed advancements in smartphone development including: connectivity, displays, cameras and performance. Featuring Kirin 970, the world’s first smartphone chipset with a dedicated Neural Network Processing Unit, the new HUAWEI Mate 10 Series provides a faster, more personalized user experience that will bring the future to life and I think that’s exactly what consumers are looking for.
Today, Huawei is growing up to become the world’s number one. Tell us how the focus on innovation has given your consumer a better experience?
The focus on innovation was rewarding and helped us provide devices with an ultimate design, long lasting battery, fast charging technique, tremendous photography tools, intelligent speed and many convenient features that changed the customers’ experience to the better.
A device with the Kirin 970 processor, where apps and big games are loading faster and getting the phone into action is a very fast process. This processor allows an energy saving up to 50% compared to previous versions, with a fast-chargeable 4,000mAh battery that last for 2 days.
Huawei values R&D investment, technology and innovation. In the last 10 years, the company invested 45 billion USD in R&D to bring the latest technology to its products and services.
To date, the company has established 15 R&D institutes/centers and 36 joint innovation centers around the world, mainly in Europe, including Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Sweden, and the UK. Huawei also ranked as the world’s top 10 companies in terms of research and development spending in 2016, according to EU Industrial R&D Investment Scoreboard.
The Premium phone is a very tough market; why did Huawei decide to place itself in this category?
Huawei decided to take on the challenge of producing value added phones, premium phones because of the customers’ constantly evolving needs and expectations.
We even went above the premium especially by introducing flagship phones such as the Huawei Mate 10 Pro, which has been described as reinventing the concept of a smartphone-strong hardware, a new NPU, water resistance, and good display and cameras and has a great display and a powerful processor with minimal power consumption; the Huawei Mate 10 Pro is among the top 3 best devices of 2017.
Moreover, Huawei collaborated with Porsche Design to create Porsche design devices, the partnership with Pantone Colour Institute to create a vibrant palette of tech-packed P10 smartphones, we also have a lot of R&D centers in the world, as well as design centres including Japan Research Centre; Moscow Algorithm Centre; San Francisco UX Design Centre; Paris Aesthetics Centre; EU 5G Technology Centre and London Design Centre.
What is your take on digital advancement and how is it reflected on the company’s efforts to innovate and provide the consumer new ground-breaking products?
Digital advancements can help in creating the product, but can never create one.
We cannot deny that digital advancements have helped us get to where we are now, but it also raised the level of standards high, and challenged us to create a ground-breaking device that already generated global recognition; especially since it’s powered by AI chipset, the Kirin 970- which is the World’s First SoC with NPU and all the advancement that was added.
Walk us through the brand’s collaboration process, and what does Huawei foresee in the near future, any new collaborations with fashion designers or artists?
Huawei has joined forces with industry partners to innovate and bring technology to consumers. Committed to the core values of staying customer-centric, Huawei amassed long-term, focused effort that leads to great moments of technological breakthroughs.
We have collaborated with Global Partners as well as renowned companies:
- Huawei collaborated with Porsche Design to create Porsche design devices.
- Huawei and The Pantone Color Institute, the global colour authority, have partnered to deliver the first Pantone colours for smartphones.
- Huawei partnered with Leica, a premium camera manufacturer with more than 100 years as the leader in the world of imaging.
On Fashion and Artists:
Huawei partnered with Ricostro on Huawei P10 and Huawei P10 Plus, to reconstruct the design language for smartphone accessories. RICO designed smartphone charging cables and a smartphone bag for Huawei P Series. Her inspiration came from ‘telepathy’ – power runs through a device like blood in human body to connect ‘space’ into geometry tailoring creation. Sometimes abstract and sometimes structured, to possess the modern beauty of technology.
Moreover, Huawei also partnered with CSM (Central Saint Martins), to explore the boundary of vanguard design (The Arts London’s Central Saint Martins is regarded as the birthplace of luxury brands and fashion designer incubators, and highlight the personality of the times and lead the world fashion. The world’s leading designers Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney are graduates from this school.)
So, what do we have to look forward to in Huawei’s future devices? Any plans to enter a new product category?
Huawei is becoming a global tech giant and is yet to introduce more and more innovative devices in the years to come, by:
- Bringing more consumer focused innovations.
- Bringing forward exciting era of Mobile AI.
- Investing in R&D.
- Work on more unique features based on the AI technologies.
We believe that focusing on the consumers needs and with the global tech innovations we are keen to always introduce new devices that suit everyone and that simplify their lives and enhance their daily routine.
With the introduction of the AI chipset, I believe we are the trendsetters when it comes to the future of smartphones, we will keep on investing in R&D with our centres across the globe and we are committed to always come up with more and more innovations.
At this stage I can only say stay tuned because we will have plenty of products that will dazzle you.
By Dana Mortada