Not long ago, Huawei announced that it will soon begin construction on a dedicated warehouse in Johannesburg. Its aim? To reduce delivery times of new devices to local retailers from three weeks to as little as three days.
Locally, Huawei currently owns about 10% of the smartphone market. This is impressive when one considers its competition, and the amount of time that the brand has been in the local smartphone space, relative to brands like Apple and Samsung.
What is most notable about Huawei, however, is its product offering.
Although this may be unpopular with Apple aficionados, the simple fact is that the iPhone is prohibitively expensive for the vast majority of South Africans. Even Apple’s “budget” iPhone XR is priced just slightly below Huawei’s flagship, the Mate 20 Pro.
Samsung has a similar strategy to Huawei when it comes to a multi-tiered offering, but, in my opinion, unless one opts for one of Samsung’s flagship devices, one is often met with the same old hardware, the same old experience, the same old feeling.
This is where Huawei really seems to be headed in the right direction.
I am a big believer in the fact that your smartphone should invoke a sense of joy whenever you pick it up. It should feel special to hold, special to engage with. When your smartphone is in your hand, you should have the sense that you are holding something unique, fun, immaculately crafted and technologically advanced. Huawei’s devices certainly seem to get this right.
The iPhone is a thing of beauty. It is a pleasure to hold and its user interface is clean, simple and elegant. It’s a wonderful thing, but you must be prepared to pay for this experience. And boy do you pay. Somehow though, Huawei has managed to replicate this feeling, this experience, even with its wallet-friendly P20 Lite and Honor devices. Yes, we get this experience with the Samsung Galaxy S-Series and Note devices, but, again, they come at a premium.
It could be said that when it comes to that “special” feeling we search for in a smart device, Huawei’s devices are iPhone-esque, but at a fraction of the price.
So, where does Huawei’s genius lie?
Huawei seems to have every corner of the market covered. Yes, Samsung operates in a similar way, but specification-wise, Huawei seems to offer devices in each category that could quite easily belong to the price point above it.
For many South Africans, devices that offer high-end specifications and functionality have simply not been an option due to the costs associated with owning such devices. Huawei is making this a thing of the past, and adoption of the brand will no doubt continue to rise rapidly as it makes further inroads into the market by providing solutions at every price point. I think that that optimal word here is “solutions”. Huawei is providing solutions to consumers that find themselves in a country affected by a struggling economy, a lack of jobs and the world’s highest rate of youth unemployment.
Huawei is working to provide South Africans with affordable devices, as well as improved connectivity – a combination that has the potential to produce a vast array of positive results for individual South Africans and the economy as a whole. The prospects are certainly exciting.
Many business professors will tell you to find a pain point and provide a solution. Huawei is doing this in a big way. Huawei seems to understand the South African market, and providing a wide range of devices will certainly stand it in good stead as it moves forward. Its decision to make a push into South Africa, and its strategy to do so, is brilliant. I have no doubt that Huawei’s product offerings will continue to be lapped up by the South African consumer as we discover, more and more, just how much value the brand has to offer.
The coming year will be an exciting one as we witness Huawei’s continued drive into the local market. It seems to have made the effort to understand the South African consumer, and in my book, any brand that does that deserves to win.