China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd is making a second attempt at cracking the Brazilian smartphone market, the fourth-largest in the world, with the launch of two high-end handsets this month, after its cheaper offerings failed to catch on earlier in the decade.
The move will take Huawei beyond its current role in Brazil as a supplier of cellular network equipment to challenge Samsung Electronics Co and Lenovo Group’s Motorola brand which dominate the local smartphone market.
“Brazil is a market with very significant opportunities for Huawei and we have a competitive portfolio to satisfy consumers’ expectations,” said Ketrina Dunagan, Huawei’s vice president of marketing for the Americas, in a statement emailed to Reuters.
Huawei’s plans for Brazil underscore the rise of Chinese companies expanding in Latin America’s technology and consumer sectors, moving beyond a traditional focus on commodities and infrastructure.
Brazil is a rare Latin American market where Huawei’s phones are still absent from store shelves. The company currently sells handsets in more than a dozen countries in the region, often with a double-digit market share.
Huawei, the world’s third largest smartphone manufacturer, first launched a smartphone in Brazil in 2014, but the Ascend P7 handset met with weak demand and the project was discontinued.
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Now, Huawei is planning to import two premium devices from the new P30 Series equipped with high-resolution cameras, the company said, withholding details ahead of the April 30 launch.
“The commercial strategy is completely different this time because the brand is still not well-known by Brazilians,” said a person familiar with the matter, requesting anonymity to speak openly about plans that have not been made public.
Whereas five years ago, Huawei set up as a supplier to mobile carriers, which sell just a tenth of new smartphones in Brazil, this time the company is looking to partner with retail chains that sell more than two-thirds of handsets, the source said.
More cutting-edge models should also help Huawei lure the attention of increasingly sophisticated buyers.
“The Brazilian market has reached a maturity level and manufacturers must bring novelties to convince consumers to replace their smartphones for new ones,” said Renato Meireles, a research analyst at IDC Brasil.
Smartphone sales in Brazil are expected to fall 4.3 % this year, Meireles added, after a 6.8 % drop in 2018.
“The first semester is still affected by economic and political turbulences, but sales should improve in the second semester with the arrival of new players”, he said.