Dubai: The question before the consumer division chiefs at Huawei is straightforward – how soon can the Chinese tech giant build a raft of products around its flagship (and latest) smartphone?
The Huawei universe is being expanded – or more precisely, being updated. The smartwatch and audio devices are there and, recently, topped up with the latest MateBook release. Enough handsome products for more consumers to enter Huawei’s version of a ‘walled garden’. But when it comes to market share, there are still battles and wars to be won against the dominant Apple and Samsung. After taking on Trump and the full weight of US sanctions, Huawei knows a bit about constant action.
Keith Li, Country Manager for the UAE at Huawei Consumer Business Group, is ready for more. And he’s got a plan.
Huawei has always been about being a smartphone brand - how realistic can the brand expect its other consumer products to start pitching in?
Keith Li: This year, we announced the ‘Super Device Experience’, which provides a common language for different kinds of devices to connect and collaborate, providing users with a more convenient, smooth and secure experience. It uses distributed technology to combine previously independent devices into a virtual super device and where services and functions can shift seamlessly between different devices.
The Super Device experience is our main focus for now as we continue to bring to our consumers an integrated experience. Consumers of today demand a more connected life and that is exactly what our ‘1+8+N Seamless AI Life Strategy’ delivers, in which the 1 refers to the user's phone, the 8 refers to 8 key Huawei smart devices (including watches, tablets, and speakers), and N refers to a variety of smart home devices from third-party vendors.
The importance of feature-packed smart devices is only likely to grow further as consumers demand more flexibility in the way their devices operate and what they offer.
Would Huawei consider adding more standalone stores in the UAE for its growing consumer range? Or would that be too early to think about?
KL: We understand that new trends in shopping place the customer experience as the focal point. And digitalization becomes an important step during this transition for retail enterprises. We are confident our new-retail model will enhance customer experience as well as after-sales services.
In 2018, we opened our flagship ‘Experience Store’ in The Dubai Mall, which was fully equipped and dedicated to offer customers a complete hands-on product experience. Customers can get access to Huawei’s latest products earlier than anywhere else, as well engage with the brand. This was followed by opening of the Mall of the Emirates flagship store, and at Mirdif City Centre in 2019.
The experience stores complement over 47 service centers across the region, where customers receive VIP assistance and shorter service cycles for their devices. Our recent products have had great consumer engagement at the Experience Store. The store allows customers to pre-book the latest devices and be the first ones to experience and own them.
The one serious threat the tech industry is facing has to do with chip shortages for all the gadgets. What’s your strategy?
KL: It is true that all industries has faced considerable challenges, including Huawei. Going forward, we will continue working openly with our global industry partners to explore potential solutions to the challenges. We are confident in our ability to survive and continue growing. We have what it takes to deliver greater value to our customers and society at large.
Huawei Consumer BG continuously builds competitiveness, with a focus on the ecosystem and experiences. We are confident in our resilience and long-term development.
Wouldn’t the chip situation lead to some delays on latest launches?
KL: We have a wide portfolio of products, including PCs, tablets, wearables, audio devices and more. As such, we are committed to UAE market and will continue to provide users across the region with the latest products and technology during 2021.
We have a consumer centric approach where their needs will always come first. This is our promise to our users, and we will continue to have the same drive and energy to innovate and engineer the market with leading products and services.