|George Zhao, president of Huawei-owned sub-brand Honor, speaks during a Huawei Developer Conference in Dongguan, China, Aug. 10. / Courtesy of Huawei|
By Baek Byung-yeul
Huawei is stepping up efforts to dethrone Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics in the global TV market, with China's largest smartphone maker releasing its new smart TVs Thursday.
Industry analysts said Huawei is trying to diversify its business portfolio as it has been struggling with a stagnant smartphone market.
Given TV is one of the main parts of an automated home system, the analysts interpreted that Huawei's greater investment in TVs is aimed at developing its own at-home internet-of-things (IoT) ecosystem and expanding the market for its operating system.
Huawei will try to take advantage of its global distribution and retail network to sell more TVs but it won't be easy for the company to be in the same realm as Samsung, LG and Sony, which have established their technological leadership and strong brand awareness, the analysts said.
The Chinese maker, which has recently faced a U.S. government clampdown on its products, unveiled its new operating system ― Harmony OS ― on Friday in an attempt to replace Google's Android OS on its smart devices.
A day later, Huawei unveiled its 55-inch TVs that are powered by its new operating system. The company said it received over 100,000 pre-orders for the TV before it was officially launched on Saturday.
The TVs will be released under Honor, a sub-brand of Huawei, and will be sold in China first. They are priced at 3,799 yuan ($539) and 4,799 yuan.
A TV industry analyst, who declined to be named, said Huawei "preferentially" chose to compete with its Chinese rivals such as TCL, Xiaomi and Hisense.
"When a company announces a new product, a location where the announcement is made means the company will concentrate on the region," he said. "Given the announcement was made in China, Huawei is trying to focus on the mainland market first."
Another analyst said "chances are slim that Huawei will become a major threat to Samsung, LG and Sony, which sell high-priced TVs in markets such as North America, Europe, Korea and Japan, as it doesn't have enough technological capability to compete with them."
He presumed Huawei is pursuing Apple-like models of its own.
"Apple has been increasingly establishing partnerships with major TV makers, enabling their TVs to support Apple's iTunes app and the AirPlay streaming service," the analyst said. "This is a strategy to let more consumers experience its services as they might become its future consumers. I think Huawei is implementing an Apple-like strategy in a bid to expand its user bases."