MUMBAI: Chinese mobile phone manufacturer Huawei is renewing its push into India's booming smartphone market, but is likely to face challenges in winning market share against established brands.
The company has announced it will begin assembling phones in India with a local partner, following the path already taken by rivals like Xiaomi and Lenovo, and is hoping to work with 50,000 retailers by the end of 2016.
But Huawei, the third largest phonemaker in the world, is ranked 25th in India with just a 0.3% share, according to IDC data, lagging well behind the market leaders: Samsung has a 25% share, Micromax 13% and Lenovo 7.7%.
Huawei will be looking to avoid the fate of Apple, which has struggled to make headway in India, partly because of its much higher prices, partly because of laws requiring at least 30% of the goods sold by a foreign high-tech retailer at own-brand stores to be manufactured within the country.
In an article for Warc, How Apple and Facebook misread India, but Samsung and Vivo got it right, Kunal Sinha suggests that international tech brands need to invest more in market, consumer and cultural insights if they are to take on strong local and regional brands.
Huawei's biggest competitors in India are likely to be other Chinese manufacturers, including Vivo and Oppo.
The latter sold 50m units last year – a 67% increase on 2014 sales – and its performance in India has helped propel the brand into the fourth most popular manufacturer globally, just behind Huawei.
Its marketing strategy has seen it embrace Bollywood superstars and focus on technology-driven features such as rapid charging and high-megapixel cameras to appeal to the 'selfie generation', the Financial Express reported.
It has also managed to keep its prices competitive by localizing its manufacturing process and retailing through e-commerce platforms.
Data sourced from Business Times, Wall Street Journal, Financial Express; additional content by Warc staff