Huawei has been working at creating a strong foothold in India, be it its involvement in 4G services, newer Android smartphones, tablets or data cards. The mobile space is booming in India, and Huawei definitely forms a part of it, with its Indian presence of about 10 years. To know how Huawei products are shaping up to suit the Indian market, we spoke to Victor Shanxin, President, Huawei Devices. With more than two decades of experience he has played an instrumental role in the growth and expansion of the company. Here are excerpts from the interview, where he reveals Huawei’s operations in India, Nexus 7 rival and more.
Could you elaborate on Huawei's operations in India?
Huawei has been in India over the last 10 years and has been providing end-to-end network solutions to all the India based top-10 telecom operators. Huawei India Devices has been offering a range of high-quality products for the past several years satisfying the needs of nearly 25 million Indian households and enterprises in multiple categories such as Mobile Broadband, Home Convergence products and smartphones. In 2010, Huawei was selected amongst the World’s Top 10 most innovative companies by Fast Company.
To reduce its time-to-market and be more responsive to customers' needs, Huawei established its largest overseas R&D center, Huawei Technologies India, in Bangalore in 1998. Employing 2000 Indian software engineers (98 percent manpower localization), the Indian R&D center develops components, platforms and products in the areas of Next Generation Networks, Intelligent Network, Network Management, Data communication, Optical Transmission, and Mobile Handset applications for leading telecom operators around the world including India.
What are the challenges faced by Huawei in achieving its goals in the Indian market?
We feel there is more opportunity in developing the sustainable business model we have in India from the past 10 years. We want to understand the Indian consumer’s preferences for 3G and 4G devices across smartphone / tablet / data cards. So that’s a challenge. We are also re-vamping our distribution to serve consumers across India in 100 plus cities, and in new channels such as large format retail and online. We are also educating and engaging consumers around connected experiences with our 360 touch point strategy. As we grow in the Indian market, we are also increasing our service footprint and also leveraging new channels like Facebook to provide online service to our consumers.
Can you reveal any estimated sales figures indicating the number of people opting for wireless data cards? Can you reveal the popular circle or region of sale?
Huawei commands 65 percent market share in operator-bundled data card category. Huawei sold over 4 million data cards in the financial year 2011. While continuing to support and work closely with operators for 90 percent of the forward bundled data cards, Huawei will also bring to the remaining 10 percent consumers an unlocked Data card. These users are free to choose their operator and plan. Huawei has launched a range of data cards and pocket Wi-Fi Internet devices such as the world’s thinnest data card E369 Mini, the world’s first Wi-Fi Dongle E355 , the world’s first mobile Wifi E560, the world’s first Cloud+, and the world’s first get-online-in-15-seconds Hilink E303Cs Data Card. For this range of new devices, Huawei is working closely with operators to offer reversed bundled data plans in the open market helping operators expand their data business.
Where would you place the data card as a revenue generator compared to your other product portfolios such as smartphones and tablets?
Data cards contribute 30 percent of Huawei devices revenue while smartphones and tablets contribute 30 percent, and STB (Set Top Box) contributes another 40 percent of the revenue in India of Huawei devices.
What do you think is the reason for average acceptance of 3G in India?
3G adoption in India remains subdued due to various issues such as network quality , low penetration of 3G-enabled handsets, unavailability of local content, and the absence of a fantastic application.
High prices also made Indian subscribers turn cautious about 3G, resulting into less than 2 percent penetration despite 10-15 percent penetration of 3G -nabled handsets. One of the other factors that go against 3G is allocation of just 5 MHz of spectrum as against 20 MHz in case of 4G. India has a very high subscriber density as compared to other countries. If a sizeable proportion of it decides to opt for 3G, with very high data traffic compared to 2G, 3G networks will be congested very soon.
With 4G rolled out in India, will we see 4G dongles from Huawei?
Leading operators have already declared the launch of their next generation networks, which will be based on LTE. With the launch of Bharti Airtel’s 4G services, Huawei, the telecom solutions provider, gets the opportunity to offer its first LTE Router B593 and LTE USB Stick E392 to the Indian customers. The company globally leads the mobile broadband and data cards segment with over 55 percent of market share. The entry of LTE in the technology world will definitely prove to be the right choice for a new era in mobile communication.
How is Huawei cloud service shaping up in India?
Cloud+ is an exclusive Huawei Cloud service available to Huawei device users. Cloud+ offers a range of next generation features such as Cloud+ drive, Message+, Streams, Phone finder, SNS, Contacts Integration and access for content saved on a remote drive from anywhere for any device. These features help the phone user to experience the future.
Cloud+ gives consumer 16 GB of free storage. You can store up to 3500 songs or 7000 photos. Cloud+ is not just a hard disk in the sky. You can backup all that you use every day and it’s always available on your Huawei Phone, Media pad and PC.
When can we expect Ascend series of smartphones in India?
We are extremely delighted to launch Ascend smartphone series in Indian market. Each Huawei Ascend product is an innovative flagship model developed to meet the needs of specific consumers with Ascend D (diamond), Ascend P (platinum), Ascend G (gold), and Ascend Y (youth) categories.
Recently, we launched Ascend G300 and Y200, which are easy-to-use smartphones that provide exceptional power, performance and style for the discerning consumers. We are confident that with their impressive specs and accessible price, the Ascend series will become a popular choice among consumers across the country.
Is there any plan of launching a 7-inch tablet to rival the Google Nexus 7?
We have already launched 7-inch Media Pad in Indian Market. Huawei is now planning to launch New 10 FHD Media Pad, the first tablet announced with HD display, 10.1-inch widescreen touchscreen with 1920×1200 pixels of resolution, and sports very good colours and viewing angles. The Android ICS tablet will be powered by Huawei’s new and powerful K3V2 quad-core processor and will sport an 8MP rear camera and LTE as well. What is even more exciting is that Huawei Media Pad 10 has included these top-notch specs in an 8.8 mm thin chassis, which is an impressive feat.