Huawei mobile sales soar while Apple remains 'optimistic' about China Mobile deal

By Peter Gothard
15 Jan 2014 View Comments
A sign with the Huawei logao

Chinese telecoms equipment maker Huawei has become the world's third largest smartphone manufacturer, with 2013 sales hitting $9.14bn, 23 per cent of the company's total revenue for the year of $39.73bn.

Considering Huawei is still largely known for its networking equipment, this is a significant proportion of its earnings, with the Chinese firm now accounting for 5.1 per cent of the global smartphone market.

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But Huawei has still failed to make a dent in the US market, where its equipment is widely believed to pose a cyber security risk.

The company also still seems to favour pitching its technology at the low and mid-price areas of the smartphone market, picking high-profile tie-ups with the likes of Mozilla rather than competing against such high-end devices as the Samsung Galaxy series or Apple's iPhones.

However, on the flipside, US firm Apple is making steady in-roads into China.

After announcing last month that Apple had completed a deal with China Mobile to offer iPhones on contract for national distribution, CEO Tim Cook said more recently that he is "incredibly optimistic" about the company's potential in the world's biggest market.

"Today is a beginning, and I think there are lots more things our companies can do together in the future," Cook told the Wall Street Journal.

As of the coming weekend, Cook continued, Apple will "be selling iPhones in more than 3,000 additional locations. China Mobile already has a reach to many cities that Apple does not have a reach to". China Mobile currently has 760 million customers.

But China is Huawei's stomping ground, and a territory where Apple currently only owns 6.2 per cent of the market, slipping from 7.9 per cent in the last quarter of 2013.

And after the iPhone 5C, released last year, failed to occupy the expected budget end of the market. Apple still has no credible response to Huawei's low and medium-end market offerings.

However, Cook says that the company's products will remain premium offerings - the company has no strategic plan to produce a large volume of cheap iPhones to take on Android in the mainstream market. 

"Apple has always been about making the best products, not the most products, so that's always our 'North Star' and that's not going to change ever," said the CEO.

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