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Huawei set sights on Africa's mid-to-low range device market

Huawei set sights on Africa's mid-to-low range device market

Huawei last night launched the mid-range P smart device in Johannesburg as part of its new 2018 strategy that emphasises Africa's mid-to-low range smartphone market.

Likun Zhao, General Manager for Huawei Consumer Business, said the latest smart device (and others to be launched over the next 12 months in the mid-to-low range segment) will bring user experience, camera quality and operating system technology associated with high-end smartphones to a broader group of consumers.

"The P smart consumer target group is mainly younger people who will be attracted to the beautiful design, beautiful photos and cost effectiveness. We want to bring more of these devices to South Africa. This year we will bring more mid-tier and low tier smartphones with high technology and better experience. P smart is only a start," said Zhao.

The P smart has a full view display, dual camera and an Android 8 operating system for the recommended retail price of R3999 in what Zhao says is a first for the industry in the mid- level price range.

According to Zhao the company has decided to broaden its focus to the lower and middle segments, mainly because of its solid performance within the high-end market in 2017.

"Last year we paid more attention to the flagships and the high-end market, but for Africa maybe mid-tier and low-tier is more important for the consumer. Our performance in the high-end market was very good because at the end of last year our market share (for prices exceeding US$600) was 15.5%. At the beginning of last year it was only 7%, which means we doubled it and that is a good performance. We want to make progress within the high-end, but for the mid-tier we want to enlarge that market by bringing (in) more low-end consumers. At the same time we want to catch up on market share in the mid-tier. For the low-end we will come back and play an important role."

Zhao, who has been at the helm of Huawei Consumer Business Group in the Sub Saharan Africa region for just over a year, says only South Africa has large volumes for high-end smartphones, while the difference is marginal for the middle and low-end segments for the entire region.

"For the middle level we will select some important countries like Kenya, Zambia, Nigeria and Ghana, but for the low-end we will distribute them across the entire region."

He adds that while cooperation with African operators is an important part of the strategy, the intention is to establish closer working relationships with retailers.

"For the low-end and middle-end in Africa the retailers play a more important role. That is why we want to enhance that relationship."

Dominique Friedl, Head of Corporate Sales for South and Sub Saharan Africa at fabless semiconductor company MediaTek agrees that the way Africans use their smartphones has evolved.

"Today, end-users expect innovation and invention from every smartphone, regardless of price. Call it the new premium - the expectation that every device will deliver flagship-quality technology, performance and experiences in an affordable package. Mid-tier smartphones are recognised as the new premium, meaning exciting technology growth is happening here and not at the high-end."

The GSMA Mobile Economy report for Sub-Saharan Africa, published in July 2017, found that the region accounts for nearly a tenth of the global mobile subscriber base and is expected to grow faster than every other region over the next five years.

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