Communications are evolving rapidly in Cambodia, and the tech-savvy youth are craving the latest advancements. Huawei Technologies, China’s largest communications technology company with the world’s third largest share of the smartphone market, has been in Cambodia since 1999, but only last year did it enter the local smartphone market. Jason Liu, director of the consumer business department at Huawei for Cambodia and Laos spoke with the Post’s Business Editor May Kunmakara this week about his company’s progress in the local market.
What potential does Huawei see in the Cambodian market?
We entered Cambodia’s market in 1999. Why did we choose Cambodia? Well, to be honest, when our business came here it was successful very quickly. We received a lot of business from local [mobile] operators like Metfone, Cellcard and Smart.
Our products were actually already being used by local [operators], they [consumers] just didn’t know this was Huawei brand because we sold our products direct to the operators and they use their own brand name.
Today, the smartphone market has changed. So we have to focus on the open market where people can focus on our brand. That is why from last year we started to show off our brand, to let people know about the Huawei brand.
How do you plan to take on other brands like Samsung, LG, Apple and even Nokia?
Of course, they are all doing very well now. Huawei is the new comer to Cambodia and we learnt from them. We focus on high quality and also we focus on high performance. And good performance means good quality.
We know that people want to use a smartphone, but in Cambodia the average salary is not so high. Most people cannot afford high-end, high quality smartphones.
Huawei provides a very good product, good features with excellent performance at a reasonable price.
Globally, we are in the top three of the market. More locally, we have set targets to increase market share, and with investment we are aiming to reach over six or per cent of this market this year. In future years it will be 10 per cent of the market share.
Who is your target customer?
In Cambodia there are so many young people. My target customer is, of course, young people because when the young people find a new thing, they go out and try it, and they experience it. Young people want to know about the outside world so they want to use a smartphone.
How big is the smartphone market in Cambodia?
The market here sits at about one million units of smartphone’s sold per year. I do believe that in future the smartphone will bring big changes in the market. People are attracted to the smartphone for its features and it will certainly replace older phones.
Also, as operators like Metfone and Cellcard invest more in 4G LTE, the network is going to be very good with very fast data.
We guess about two or three million use the traditional style feature phone in the Cambodia market.
I believe that in the next five years 80 or 90 per cent of feature phone users will become smartphone users.
In Hong Kong, five years ago, half of the market used a feature phone, but now nobody uses a feature phone.
The reasons being an increase in the average salary, cheaper data and handset prices, and more features and processing power.
In the next five years Cambodia’s market is looking great.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.