Huawei has its eyes on the big prize

Huawei launched the P9 last month in front of a packed audience

Huawei is continuing to gain ground on the chasing pack, especially so following the launch of the P9 smartphone. James Pearce looks at what it must do to break into the top three in the UK

After 15 successful years in the UK, it sounds like Huawei has no plans to slow down. Not only has the Chinese manufacturer promised to keep investing in jobs and innovations, it has now set out ambitious targets to break the top three vendors here as well.

That top three is currently made up of Apple, Samsung and Sony, with Huawei sat in a lowly seventh, up from ninth a year ago.

That’s nothing compared to its global aim – to become the top smartphone vendor within the next five years. At least it is already third globally. In the UK, third place Sony has a 6.4 per cent market share, compared with 2.1 per cent for Huawei. Though that share has grown since it launched its first UK device in 2011, at this rate of growth, it will still be short of third in its 18-month timeframe.

On a global scale, it also faces challenges. Yes, Huawei is the third biggest vendor, but it is being squeezed in China by low-cost vendors such as Xiaomi and OnePlus. It also seems unlikely it will crack the US market because of numerous security concerns.

Still, something has definitely changed for Huawei, and with the right investment, it is certainly in the best position to challenge Apple and Samsung. For a company that started as a very successful ODM, making handsets including the popular O2 XDA, a lot more consumers recognise Huawei now – even if most aren’t sure how to pronounce its name!

The P9 is the first Huawei device to be ranged by all four operators, and if you walk into a Carphone Warehouse store, their stand is almost as big as Samsung’s.

If Huawei throws enough cash at marketing, and continues to strike the right brand partnerships, it could be one of the few manufacturers capable of mounting a challenge against the smartphone duopoly. Will it rule the world, and take the bronze prize in the UK? Well, I wouldn’t bet against it.