[photopress:vodafone.jpg,full,alignright]For Huawei, the advantages of producing handsets for a cellular giant are more important than fame. Vodafone has unveiled its latest phones, and they are all made in China by Huawei. They are whiz-bang, state-of-the-art 3G handsets.
Huawei is producing the handsets on an outsourcing basis for Vodafone — that is, without the Huawei name. This is Vodafone’s first own-branded 3G consumer handsets. The phone features an MP3 player and 1.3-megapixel camera, and can handle video telephony.
Will any of the European consumers care where they are made? No. In fact, most of them will never know.
Vodafone’s global director of terminals, Jens Schulte-Bockum, stressed that this is the company’s first self-branded 3G handset. He said in a flack release, ‘We’re proud that this phone carries only the Vodafone name.’ And of Huawei there is not a murmur.
But it does show very clearly how Huawei is advancing. It is diversifying away from its traditional business of routers and other types of infrastructure. Ping Guo, senior vice-president of Huawei Technologies, said in a statement when the two companies first announced their partnership that the deal would help propel the Shenzhen company into the top ranks of handset makers globally.
The Vodafone handsets also show that Huawei is willing to be flexible as it expands globally, since the Chinese company is willing to give up all branding rights. Huawei’s crosstown rival, ZTE, is making similar moves. It announced in Beijing that it had reached an agreement with British Telecoms to provide 3G handsets.
Lenovo, the leading personal computer brand in China and the world’s No. 3 PC player, has also been making a push into mobile phones. Unlike Huawei, Lenovo is focusing on building up its own brand.
Only a few years ago, Lenovo was an also-ran in the Chinese cell phone market, but in the past two years the company has focused on building up the business and is now the leading Chinese brand, ahead of traditional leaders TCL and Bird. (Foreign brands such as Nokia , Motorola, and Samsung are the only ones now ahead of Lenovo.)
With Lenovo’s rapid progress in the cell phone business and Huawei’s moves into 3G, some people see the beginnings of a trend, with Chinese companies becoming more influential outside of China.
Source: Business Week
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