Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei said on Wednesday that the company has no plans to sell its foldable smartphone in overseas markets and that the device will launch in China on November 15.
Why it matters: The world’s second-largest smartphone vendor, hamstrung by a US export ban that blocks access to the most popular features of Google’s Android mobile operating system, is approaching overseas markets with caution as it ramps up marketing efforts in its home territory.
- Google said in August that it could not sell the license that is required to pre-install popular Google apps and services such as YouTube and the Play Store to Huawei for new devices.
- Huawei smartphone sales in Europe, the company’s biggest market outside China, tumbled 16% year on year in the second quarter, though it retained its position as the second-largest smartphone vendor in Europe with 8.5 million units shipped in the quarter ended June 30.
- In the same period, domestic shipments of Huawei smartphones soared 38% year on year, which analysts said stemmed from patriotic fervor among Chinese shoppers in response to US restrictions on the company.
Details: Kevin Ho, vice president of Huawei’s consumer business unit, told reporters at the launch of the Mate X foldable phone on Wednesday that there is no timetable for the device to go on sale in overseas markets because its demand has exceeded supply in China.
- The current production capacity of the RMB 16,999 (around $2,405) device is roughly 100,000 units per month, according to Ho.
- The company also announced that its smartphone shipments in 2019 to date had exceeded 200 million units, reaching the sales benchmark two months earlier than last year.
- The increase is attributable to strong domestic sales figures, while sales in overseas markets slipped, according to Ho.
“Our strategy is based on carriers’ 5G roll-out in different regions… A global launch plan [for the Mate X] is under review.”
—Huawei spokesman to TechNode on Thursday
Context: This is not the first time that Huawei has deferred its overseas markets from launch plans for new handsets.
- The company delayed sales of its newly launched Mate 30 5G smartphone series in Europe in September because the handsets have no access to Google apps and services under the US trade ban. However, it said last month that it is planning to launch the Mate 30 series in Southeast Asia in October.
- NTT Docomo, Japan’s largest mobile carrier, said last month it would not offer phones from Huawei for its 5G network based on concerns about restricted access to Google services, according to Nikkei Asian Review.
Update: an earlier version of this story referred to Kevin Ho as He Gang, as he is also known.