Huawei prepares marketing for UK smartphone push

Huawei, the Chinese telecoms company, is gearing up to roll out a UK marketing push for its consumer mobile and tablet products within the next six to nine months, as it seeks to establish itself in the international smartphone arena.

Huawei: eyes up the UK market
Huawei: eyes up the UK market

The company, which posted profits of $3.64bn (£2.23bn) last year and claims to be China's leading telecoms-equipment provider, is understood to be talking to agencies in the UK. The aim is to build its brand in Europe.

The launch of its brand in the UK will pitch Huawei against Taiwanese mobile device manufacturer HTC, which has been stepping up its marketing activity over the past two years.

Huawei, which has little brand-awareness in the UK, has made clear its plans to capitalise on the growing popularity of smartphones. It has focused on developing 'affordable' devices that run on Google's Android operating system.

It plans to launch a range of smartphone and tablet devices in the UK this year under its own brand, and has signed a contract with 20:20 Mobile, a mobile handset and accessories distributor, to gain listings in retailers.

This year Huawei hired Mark Mitchinson, the former head of Samsung Electronics in the UK and Ireland, as its UK executive vice-president. His remit covers all sales and marketing for handsets, tablets and mobile broadband devices.

The company recently announced that it plans to double its work force in the UK, recruiting 500 employees over the next three years, including several roles within sales and marketing.

It was also reportedly in talks with Transport for London to provide equipment for a mobile network on the London Underground.

Huawei has pinpointed Europe as being an important growth market for it, as well as a centre for technology. The company has already tied up with mobile operator Vodafone and Spanish firm Telefonica in Europe, as it looks to expand its reach.

Earlier this month, Huawei unveiled the MediaPad, which it claimed is its lightest, smallest and "smartest" tablet device to date.

Rival HTC launched its first major advertising campaign in October 2009. The activity introduced its "quietly brilliant" positioning.

Sales of the manufacturer's handsets and devices have soared in the UK, driven by their comparatively low cost.

IN MY VIEW - EXPERT COMMENT

BEN CUSACK, GROUP MARKETING DIRECTOR, MOBILE INTERACTIVE GROUP

The smartphone market is crowded, with Apple, Sony Ericsson, HTC, Motorola, Nokia and Microsoft driving down each other's prices. The best place to enter the market is targeting teens, who may not have deep pockets but want to upgrade to a smartphone. The devices should have good social-networking ability and offer an alternative to BlackBerry, which has captured that market. The brand would have to do something very different, though, to break Apple's and HTC's hold.

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