Huawei’s plans for South Africa in 2018: Seven talking pointsBy Robin-Leigh Chetty 22 March 2018 | Categories: feature articles
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This week Huawei South Africa Consumer Business Group outlined several of its plans for the rest of 2018, with mobile and cloud services in particular focused upon by the Chinese company. Touching on a number of elements during its media briefing, topics covered included an upcoming phone launch, outlining objectives in the mobile market, the introduction of a warehouse in the country and rollout of dedicated cloud-based apps.
With so much to discuss, we've condensed their briefing into seven essential talking points for local consumers and app developers alike to take note of.
1. An increasing mobile market share
The local outlook for mobile manufacturers sees the majority of companies trying to play catch up with the two major players - Samsung and Apple. While Huawei is not there just yet, last year and Q4 in particular proved significant for the Chinese organisation.
To that end their local mobile market share for 2017 was 16.3%, with company's focus on the premium device space ($600 and up) resulting in a 13.8% slice of the pie. This growth has been buoyed by a handful of flagship devices from last year, with the P10/P10 Plus and Mate 10 Pro garnering 67% and 66% sales increases respectively.
As such, it seems like local consumers are responding positively to the premium devices that Huawei is bringing into the country.
2. The significance of 5G
Sticking with mobile, 5G is looking like a key area of focus for Huawei moving forward. GM for South Africa, Zhao Likun noted that the broadband standard will prove vital as a, "tool for digital transformation".
In fact, he believes that next year could see an ambitious country launch a fully fledged 5G network, with its ability as an IoT enabler a heavily contributing factor to its adoption.
When pressed about whether South Africa is ready for such an adoption, Likun was careful to note that there still needs to be a worthwhile return on investment for 4G locally, as stakeholders assess its capabilities.
3. 5G mobile and network devices
As for devices capable of empowering a 5G network goes, Huawei has those too. The company showcased one of these offerings recently at Mobile World Congress in the form of the 5G CPE (on-premise equipment). This device supports all current 5G frequency bands, and could be put to use in multiple scenarios, according to the company.
On the mobile device front, Likun confirmed that Huawei is planning to release the world's first commercial 5G smartphone. At this stage it's unclear if that will be a P series or Mate branded device, but the GM did inform us that South Africa will be receiving the phone as well.
4. Local launch of the Huawei P20
Speaking of upcoming devices, next week will see Huawei unveil a rumoured trio of P20 devices. Their global event is scheduled for 27 March in Paris, but local consumers won't have to wait long to get their hands on it, as Huawei has a local launch planned for 5 April. The company is working hard with network operators, according to Likun, and the P20 should be available to purchase from 6 April onwards.
Such a quick turnaround from the date of unveiling is a significant step for Huawei. In previous years, their devices have taken a long time to enter the country, which often meant interest in the phones lessened the longer it took to get them in local stores.
5. Global cloud services setup
Moving onto its plans for the country, Huawei has a few notable developments in store on the cloud services front. Currently the company supports cloud services in roughly 200 countries across the globe, all of which are handled by one of three regional centres located in Germany, Singapore and China.
At this stage there's no plan to setup a regional centre on Africa, but South Africa is the first country on the continent to receive access to Huawei's dedicated cloud services.
6. Roll out of Cloud Suite apps
The rest of the year will see Huawei plan to roll out six of its own cloud services applications, including App Gallery, Theme Store, Huawei Music, HiCloud, Screen Magazine and Huawei Pay.
It is perhaps the latter that could prove the most interesting, with Huawei Pay expected to be launched in over 60 countries (including SA) between now and June 2018. This won't be a standalone offering, but will rather be serviced through existing financial institutions. While Huawei has not confirmed any official partner banks at this stage, Likun did tell us that negotiations are underway with FNB and Standard Bank.
7. Huawei Developer Alliance
The last notable talking point made by Huawei was the Developer Alliance it will be creating for its cloud services. The company is set to enlist the aid of local service providers to interact with would-be app developers in generating useful solutions. Along with being designed specifically for the mobile platform, Huawei adds that the apps will be localised, and as such could help design solutions for South African problems.
This Alliance is yet to kick off, however, so we'll have to wait and hear from Huawei before it's up and running.
Big year ahead
Having recently acquired a large campus in the Woodmead, Johannesburg region, it's clear that Huawei plans to establish firmer roots in the country. Add to that a new warehouse that aims to shorten delivery time of devices, as well as partnering up with vendors for improved after sales service, and 2018 is shaping up to be an important one for Huawei locally.
With South Africa viewed as the key location for further entry into the rest of the continent, it will prove vital for Huawei to establish success here if it plans to be a top brand for Africa.
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