January 6, 2017
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At CES 2017, our very own Darcy LaCouvee talks with Huawei CEO Richard Yu on growth, new and exciting partnerships, and the company’s secret recipe for success.

Huawei saw a strong end to 2016 and has an equally busy start to this year, and we’re only a few days into 2017. The company’s wonderful Huawei Mate 9 phablet is coming to the United States on January 6 as the first phone with Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant built in. Plus, Huawei’s Honor sub-brand just launched the new budget-friendly Honor 6X, which is certainly a killer entry to the mid-range smartphone market.

Huawei has been on the radar for a number of years now, but 2016 finally saw the company pull away from the main pack of Android manufacturers to firmly secure its position as the third largest global smartphone vendor, and the company is gradually closing the gap on Apple and Samsung. During the interview, Yu revealed that 2016 smartphone shipments reached 139 million, up from 108 million the year before, and that the company saw a 32 percent increase in revenue and double digit growth.

In a year when the big two saw market shares fall, Huawei has been growing steadily to secure itself third position. Source: IDC

Last year’s success has not made Huawei complacent though. Yu expects a continued consolidation of the smartphone market in 2017 and believes that we may see a number of smaller players drop out of the market over the next twelve months. To ensure that Huawei’s growth figures remain in the black, the company is putting additional investment into building distribution channels and marketing. This coincides with a push into new markets, such as the launch of the Mate 9 in the US, and the plan appears to be to build on the company’s success in Europe and China over the past couple of years by reaching new consumers.

At a quick glance, Huawei’s recipe for success doesn’t seem drastically different from other manufacturers that are still fighting it out for smaller market shares. The company is producing high performance flagships and models with more competitive price points. However, Huawei has also come out with some key product differentiators by partnering with other hardware specialists. The company’s growing partnership with Leica has helped propel Huawei’s camera performance, and the Porsche Design Mate 9 collaboration has produced a stunning looking and feeling premium model that’s a true competitor to any other flagship on the market. Yu views these strategic partnerships as essential to building the best smartphones on the market.

“In this industry we need partnerships, we cannot do everything by ourselves … and we want the best partnerships to bring the best innovations together” – Huawei CEO, Richard Yu

We have also seen Huawei partner up with Amazon’s open virtual assistant API to deliver the world’s first Alexa AI powered smartphone, and Google Daydream support is keeping Huawei on the cutting edge of mobile virtual reality technology. That’s not all though, the company’s HiSilicon subsidiary produced the best mobile processor last year with the Kirin 960. This cheap also brought telephoto zoom, CDMA carrier support, and improved audio features to Huawei’s products before others even announced their next-generation hardware. Huawei has certainly been busy and it’s clear that this has paid off so far.

Virtual reality and AI support appear to be very important to Huawei’s strategy going forward, as Yu views these as the two next biggest developments for smartphones. As is 5G technology, and Huawei’s long history in the telecommunications market is ensuring that the company is right in the heart of developing the future 5G standard.

Looking back, 2016 saw a range of excellent handsets come out of Huawei, notable the Honor 5X, Honor 8, and the Mate 9. As we said in our open letter to manufacturers at the end of the year, more of the same in 2017 is certain to keep Huawei on our radar.

For a closer look at Huawei’s plans for the future, be sure to check out the full interview with Richard Yu attached above. You don’t want to miss it!

For more in-depth CES 2017 coverage, head here!

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