South African consumers who owned or were looking to buy Huawei smartphones were somewhat shaken by the US ban imposed on the company earlier this year.
The US placed Huawei on its Entity List, prohibiting American companies from doing business with the Chinese manufacturer, a move which had repercussions in markets across the world.
Concern over the consequences of this decision was particularly high in countries like South Africa, where Huawei devices have seen exponential growth and adoption among the populace.
Many users were worried that their existing Huawei devices would lose access to Google’s Android operating system, or that Android and Google Play Services would not be installed on their new P30 or P30 Pro.
The company was quick to respond to these concerns, however, and Huawei South Africa CTO Akhram Mohamed decisively quashed any anxiety over the future of its local smartphone business.
“Every device Huawei has launched up to the P30 and P30 Pro will continue to work as per normal and receive Android updates,” he said.
He also added that future smartphones would offer the best user experience possible, whether that was on Google’s Android OS or Huawei’s own “Plan B” backup solution.
Speaking at the launch event for Huawei’s new Y9 Prime 2019 smartphone in Johannesburg, Huawei South Africa CBG General Manager Likun Zhao told MyBroadband that the company did see a dip in sales following the initial implementation of the US ban.
The company rallied quickly, however, restoring consumer confidence and bringing its sales numbers back in line with its projections for 2019.
“Huawei Consumer Business Group showed 30% revenue growth in the first half of 2019 in South Africa,” he said. “We have the confidence that we can deliver good revenue growth for the whole of 2019.”
Zhao said the company took a number of steps to assure consumers of its dedication to the local market and the user experience for local smartphone owners.
“After 16 May, we took action to recover the confidence of local consumers,” Zhao said. ” First, we announced that we would upgrade almost all of our older products to the newest version of EMUI.”
“The second action is the upgrade of the P30 Series devices to Android Q, with tests starting from August 2019.”
Lastly, Zhao said Huawei would also continue to bring its smartphones to the country, emphasising the launch of the Y9 Prime 2019 and the upcoming Mate series launch.
South Africans have been resolute in their commitment to Huawei too, prompting Zhao to extend a message of gratitude to consumers who stood behind the company when it was in the midst of its conflict with the US.
“South Africans have stood by Huawei and shown their love and support. The majority of South Africans are still using their products and they love it,” he said.
“We want to say a big thank you to them for being able to do that and for loving the Huawei brand.”
Sights on Samsung
Huawei and Samsung have been battling over the South African market for the past few years, and the resulting competitive market has created great value for local consumers, especially in the mid-range segment.
About one month before the US blacklisting of Huawei, Samsung launched its new Galaxy A Series in South Africa to try and regain some of the market share it lost to Huawei’s mid-range devices.
The Galaxy A Series encompassed a wide range of value offerings, from budget Android Go devices to flagship-like smartphones.
Shortly after this launch, Huawei was placed on the US Entity List, arguably placing it in a precarious competitive position following the launch of Samsung’s new mid-range devices – a market sector in which Huawei has seen great success in South Africa with its P20 and P30 Lite.
It seems to have shrugged off this concern and continued with a “business as usual” approach, however, placating concerned customers and cementing the idea that locals can expect the same service levels from the company with the launch of its Y9 2019 Prime.
Huawei CTO Akhram Mohamed acknowledged the launch of Samsung’s Galaxy A Series, stating that the Y9 Prime 2019 is positioned to compete squarely with Samsung’s devices in the local market.
“The Y9 Prime 2019 is positioned as a competitor to the Galaxy A Series,” Mohamed said.
Shipping with a recommended retail price of R5,399 and an Android 9-based operating system, Huawei’s Y9 Prime 2019 has continued the trend of delivering great value to local consumers.
The initial flinch from the US ban paired with Samsung’s well-timed launch of its Galaxy A Series may have dented Huawei somewhat, but the company has rallied stronger than ever and is back in the fight.
This is great news for South African Android smartphone buyers, who can expect great value offerings produced by the fierce competition between these two brands.