The world’s biggest telecom equipment maker, Huawei Technologies Co was sued by Cisco Systems in 2003 for allegedly infringing on its patents. In the US, security officials have accused it of allowing unauthorized access by the Chinese People's Liberation Army through its equipment. US political opposition forced Huawei to withdraw its purchase of 3Leaf systems in 2010.
Huawei takes on Apple, Samsung with launch of 'world's thinnest smartphone'
Chinese telecom giant Huawei on Wednesday vowed to catch up with its more popular rivals Apple and Samsung after unveiling its newest phone for the first time in Asia.
Huawei unveiled its Ascend P6 at the CommunicAsia telecom and broadcast event in Singapore just hours after its global launch in London, billing it as world’s thinnest smartphone.
“I generally do not comment on competitors but it is a class of its own,” said Tang Siew Wai, a regional marketing director for Huawei, when asked how it will compete with Apple and Samsung.
“It’s a beautiful phone, thinnest, and the best camera that you can ever get – front-facing 5 megapixel camera and rear-facing camera of 8 (megapixels) with 2.0 aperture,” he told reporters.
Tang said Huawei lags in brand recognition behind Apple’s iPhone and Samsung, maker of the popular Galaxy series of mobile phones.
But he said Huawei was taking steps to catch up.
“We believe we are a long distance runner,” Tang said, adding: “Brand doesn’t come in a day, you need time to... lay the foundation, build a very good foundation of it. Our brand mantra is ’make it possible’”.
“Many years back, no one knew Huawei but now we’ve gotten a lot of media attention so we have made something possible here,” he said.
Huawei had only a 4.7 per cent share of the global smartphone market in the first quarter of 2013, according to industry analysts IDC.
Samsung led with a market share of 30.7 per cent, following by Apple at 17.8 per cent and LG at 4.9 per cent.
Tang said the Ascend P6 – which weighs 120 grammes and has a 4.7-inch (119.5mm) touchscreen – will be available in China this month, in Europe by July and Southeast Asia within the year.
“We are ramping up the production,” he said.
The phone, which is just 6.18mm thick, comes with a recommended retail price of €449 (US$600) and 2,688 yuan (US$438.4).
An iPhone 5 phone is priced between US$649 and US$849, depending on memory size, while Samsung’s latest flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S4, retails at US$649 in the US market.
Huawei started as a provider of telecom network equipment and is now seeking to make inroads into mobile devices.
But the company, founded by a former engineer in the Chinese army, has also found controversy abroad for its traditional line of business.
The US Congress last year warned that network equipment supplied by Huawei could be used for espionage and called for its exclusion from government contracts and acquisitions.
Huawei has denied those claims and accused the US government of protectionism.