[dropcap]A[/dropcap]fter announcing in May that it is getting into the notebook PC business, smartphone maker Huawei has announced it will launch two of the three new machines in South Africa in September.
The Chinese company will introduce the high-end Mate X and midrange Mate P computers in South Africa, Zhao Likun, director of the device business department at Huawei in South Africa, told TechCentral in an interview in Johannesburg on Monday. The lower-end Mate E will not be ranged in the country, Likun said.
The laptops will be aimed at the corporate and small and medium enterprise segments, but will also be available through selected retailers for consumer buyers. The machines will be distributed in South Africa by Mustek.
Huawei’s push into the Windows PC market is a natural extension of its smartphone business, said Likun. It forms part of a plan by the company to expand beyond smartphones and into a range of Internet-connected devices, including PCs, smartphones and connected home electronics.
The 13-inch MateBook X, which comes in three colours, is aimed at a market where brands such as Lenovo, HP and Dell dominate. The machine will sell for up to €1 699 in a high-end configuration, though Likun said local pricing must still be determined.
To encourage local sales, the machines will be bundled with Wi-Fi routers and USB dongles. The MateBook X comes with only two USB-C ports, a controversial move but one that mirrors Apple’s decision to limit the ports on its MacBook and MacBook Pro laptop computers. Likun said the machines will be priced below Apple’s equivalents.
As a newcomer in the laptop market, Huawei isn’t willing yet to disclose market share targets. However, Likun said it makes sense for the company to expand into the PC business.
“We wanted to copy smartphone technology to the laptop, to transform the laptop industry,” he said. “In future, we want to construct an ecosystem of phones, laptops, wearables and other devices. For now, smartphones make up the largest portion [of our revenue], but in the future perhaps some new device will be the main contributor.”
He said that in the smartphone segment in South Africa, Huawei is the number three player in terms of revenue behind Samsung, in number one position, and second-placed Apple. He said Huawei wants to displace Apple as number two within the next two years.
Part of the plan to do that includes a shift from focusing on the number of smartphones shipped, to revenue contribution and revenue market share. “We want to enhance our average price level from the low and middle to the high end,” Likun said. “Our target is not to sell a lot of devices. We want to construct a premium brand, globally and in South Africa.”
Key to this will be growing the market share of its high-end devices, the P10 — launched in May in South Africa — and the forthcoming Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro smartphones, which are aimed at business users, and which will be launched later this year.
To win market share, the company is working closely with MTN, Vodacom and Telkom (though not Cell C) as well as their dealer networks to push these devices to consumers. “South Africa will be among the first wave of countries to get the Mate 10,” Likun said. — © 2017 NewsCentral Media