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Huawei targets top-end market with its Mate 9

By Ma Si | China Daily | Updated: 2016-11-15 07:23

Huawei targets top-end market with its Mate 9

Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei Consumer Business Group, presents the new Huawei Mate 9 high-end-phablet during the Huawei Global Product Launch in Munich, southern Germany, on November 3, 2016. [Photo/Agencies]

Competition remains fierce with Oppo, vivo for bigger share on home turf

Huawei Technologies Co Ltd aims to regain its top position in China with its latest flagship smartphone Mate 9 series, after it lost ground to domestic rival Oppo Electronics Corp in the third quarter of the year.

The Shenzhen-based firm launched the new handsets in its home market on Monday, marking its latest effort to grab a bigger share of the high-end segment, which is full of opportunities after Samsung Electronics Co's smartphone recall crisis.

The Mate 9 Pro, the high-end version first unveiled in China, starts from 4,699 yuan ($686). It comes with a 2K curved screen and a dual rear camera, developed with the German optics company Leica. The limited version designed by luxury-car maker Porsche AG is priced at 8,999 yuan in China, far less expensive than its price in Germany, which exceeds $1,500.

Yu Chengdong, CEO of Huawei's consumer business, said the Mate 9 series phones are designed to target business consumers who need to do multitasking on smartphones.

In the third quarter, Oppo overtook Huawei as the biggest smartphone vendor in China for the first time, with a market share of 18 percent and a quarterly handset shipment of 22.5 million units. In the same time frame, the Huawei market share was 15 percent with 18 million units shipped, according to data from Shanghai-based consultancy Canalys.

Oppo's rapid rise dovetails with its strength in offline retailing channels, which played a very big part in boosting sales in the third quarter of the year, said Nicole Peng, research director at Canalys.

"But in the fourth quarter, e-commerce sales will be of high importance, because the Singles Day shopping spree, the world's largest online shopping festival, falls during the period. Huawei, which has a sub-brand Honor targeting the online population, will have a big advantage," she added.

The new product launch also came after Samsung recalled its newly launched Galaxy Note 7 in October to prevent further battery explosions.

James Yan, research director at Counterpoint Technology Market Research, was optimistic about the Mate 9's performance in China, where Huawei has established its brand as a good option for white-collar workers.

"The monthly shipments of the Mate 9 are likely to reach 700,000 to 800,000 units, roughly equal to the sales performance of its predecessor, the Mate 8," Yan said.

But, it is difficult to say whether Huawei can regain the crown. After all, the next months will see the fiercest competition among China's top three smartphone vendors, namely Oppo, Huawei and vivo Mobile Communication Technology Co Ltd, whose shipments are very, very close, he added.

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