If there’s one thing Chinese telecommunications equipment company Huawei takes pride in, it’s aiming big. While Huawei already has the third highest smartphone vendor market share globally, the company aims to make the best-selling handset in the world by 2020 – and they’re not giving up yet.

Huawei is a big player in the Chinese market, and have fought their way to being the top-seller in countries like Portugal and the Netherlands. Now they’re making strides in Australia with 6.3% of the Australian market share, making them the third top-selling smartphone vendors last year, according to GFK data.

So why exactly have Huawei devices been so successful? Red Wire talks to Colin Giles, Executive Vice President at Huawei, about how they are doing business differently – and why it’s working.

An innovative culture

Huawei is known in China for its unique company culture, and according to Giles, much of this comes down to the fact that it is a private company, primarily owned by its employees. The president, Ren Zhengfei owns the remaining 1.42% share, and as a result Huawei takes quite a different approach to their day-to-day operation and structure than most companies.

“There are three CEOs and they all have a consistent responsibility for one piece of the business,” says Giles. “One is responsible for finance, one is responsible for HR, and the other one is responsible for strategy. But then they rotate the responsibility as CEO every six months. I have never heard of that in any other company, and I think it works.”

Giles adds that this makes all three of them especially active in meetings, and helps to overcome any tendencies to be quiet or passive. This trickles down to the rest of the company; Huawei is known for having a proactive and even ‘confrontational’ culture, which is considered unique for Chinese companies.

Colin Giles Huawei

A focus on quality

With about 15% of Huawei’s income invested in Research and Development, the company has a strong focus on innovation and premium quality at an affordable price. But the brand has certainly faced barriers to cracking the Australian market, such as the misconception that a product made in China is lower quality.

“What I think Australians have been a little bit slow to catch onto is that the quality of Huawei is second to none.

“International brands have established their manufacturing in China for many years, and so on that basis, it is very difficult today to say that the quality that is coming out of Chinese manufacturers like Huawei is any different than it is from many of the others.”

Having previously worked on establishing Nokia as a big brand name in the Australian market in the 90s, Giles is confident Huawei can do the same through reinforcing quality, and paying close attention to the consumer experience.

Harnessing the power of collaboration

One of the most recent improvements in the Huawei smartphone design was their collaboration with Leica to revolutionise smartphone cameras. Huawei first launched this collaboration in the P9 in 2016, and have returned with the extraordinary P10 this year.

“What Leica brings to us is a heritage of understanding photographers,” Giles says. “I think they really understand what photographers want in their cameras.

“We partnered with them on both the hardware and software that is built into the editing tools but also the lenses themselves. The insights and capabilities they bring has really helped us to develop our innovation capabilities around smartphone photography.”

Huawei P10 Portrait

Stunning imagery captured by the Huawei P10. Image: Stu Robertson, Huawei 100 Portraits project

Of course, Huawei doesn’t just make smartphone devices – the company’s first range of smart watches that launched in 2015 has been very successful. And given their impressive progress over the past few years, they are well on their way to becoming a household name in the Australian market.

Vodafone is proud to support innovation and stock a range of Huawei products, such as the Huawei P10 and the Huawei Mate 9.

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Camilla Gulli


Camilla Gulli,

As Editor at Red Wire, Camilla is particularly passionate about diversity in tech, content marketing, social media, and disruptive platforms.