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Huawei’s Rise To Prominence In Bangladesh’s Smartphone Market

Smartphone has seen an unprecedented growth in Bangladesh in recent years. The value of legally imported smartphone in 2015 was $316 million, up from $262 million in the previous year. According to Bangladesh Mobile Phone Importers’ Association (BMPIA), it will be $613 million by 2020.

The handset market has become extremely competitive in the recent years. Local upstarts, Symphony and Walton, have taken over the market from previously dominant Samsung. Apart from the existing players, there is an ever-growing list of new entrants, including now aggressive Oppo, local importers like Maximus, Okapia, Indian brand Micromax and more.

While many of the existing companies are struggling to find a footing in the market, Huawei, one of the comparatively late starters in the space, has gained significant market share over the past years.

Huawei, originally telecom technology provider with 75% market share in the space, launched its mobile handset wing in January 2012. However, it did not pay much attention to the segment until early 2015.

Since then it has launched new models, started to expand extensively on advertising and brand promotion, opened new customer care centers, launched new brand shop and sales points.

Today, Huawei has 18 models in the market, starting from the price range of BDT 5000 to BDT 50,000. It has 300 brand shops with more than 3200 sales point. The company is now 4th in the market right behind Samsung and holds around 7% of the market share.

In a recent interview with the Daily Star, Colin Shi, Chief Technology Officer of the company, revealed that the company plans to double down its effort to grab more market share. The company also plans to offer less costly smartphones.

Bangladesh has been experiencing an incredible mobile handset growth for the last couple of years. Until 2012, this growth was largely dominated by basic phones. But since 2013, smartphones have started to pick up and now dominates the market. Although, customers prefer smartphones but the market remains largely price sensitive.

The affordable pricing of Chinese manufactured phones has contributed largely to this growth. At $123, the average retail price of a smartphone in Bangladesh is the lowest among 17 developing markets analysed by Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends Report for 2016. Yet, most average people in Bangladesh can’t afford smartphones.

Huawei plans to address this issue by bringing more low-cost handset. Huawei is currently the third-largest handset brand globally. In China, Huawei’s home market, the company holds the number one position with 18% market share. However, it is facing serious competition from new upstarts like Oppo and Vivo.

Bangladesh is a different market and changing rapidly due to the economic growth and rise of a middle class with increased spending muscle. But consumers are still price sensitive. While people want a budget phone, they also prefer brand and good quality. Huawei, with its strategy to offer low-cost smartphones, should be able to click a growing middle-class consumers base if the brand can check other boxes along with low-cost.

Data Sources: Strategy Analytics, The Daily Star

Mohammad Ruhul Kader is a Dhaka-based entrepreneur and writer. He founded Future Startup, a digital publication covering the startup and technology scene in Dhaka with an ambition to transform Bangladesh through entrepreneurship and innovation. He writes about internet business, strategy, technology, and society. He is the author of Rethinking Failure. His writings have been published in almost all major national dailies in Bangladesh including DT, FE, etc. Prior to FS, he worked for a local conglomerate where he helped start a social enterprise. Ruhul is a 2022 winner of Emergent Ventures, a fellowship and grant program from the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. He can be reached at ruhul@futurestartup.com

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