Huawei has outpaced Apple's top worldwide mobile phone sales and has become the second-largest smartphone provider in the world this year, according to market share at the end of the second quarter. The new goal of the Chinese company is to pass first, currently owned by Samsung, by 2020.
"Next year, we'll be very close to number one, maybe we'll keep up with Samsung, and at least next year we might have a chance," said Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei Consumer Division. , to CNBC in an exclusive interview.
Huawei talks about folding phones, 5G technology and augmented reality glasses. But it was not always a world-class enterprise. In fact, Huawei did not even have its own smartphone until 2010, three years after Apple's debut with the first iPhone.
The company has become one of the largest technology companies in China due to the growth of mobile network equipment and is today one of the biggest suppliers in the world for this market. He was also an original designer (ODM), which meant he designed and manufactured devices for other companies.
Innovation was the key to Huawei's rise
In 2010, Huawei launched its first smartphone called IDEOS with the Google Android operating system and costs about 60 euros. Eight years later, the company launches phones with original artificial intelligence and premium equipment at over 1,000 euros.
Switching from an ODM to the giant of today was implemented by Richard Yu, who previously worked for Huawei's business-to-business (B2B) division and became CEO of the Consumer Group in 2012. At that time, some market trends made Yu see Huawei's potential in the telephony market, including switching from smartphones to smartphones and the arrival of the 4G mobile Internet.
He has decided that Huawei will stop producing classic phones and will focus on next-generation smartphones with stronger batteries and larger screens, exactly what consumers demand.
The CEO says he likes to take risks, which has helped Huawei grow rapidly.
"I encourage the team to have that ability to innovate, make bold innovations, do something that some people would say is a little crazy, provoke ourselves and the industry," Yu told CNBC.
For Yu, Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be a key technology that will take smartphones to a new level and help the company grow in the future.
"AI will come in. AI will be the engine of all future services and it will be elementary to work on multiple devices, it will connect all applications." The biggest change in the next ten years will be the capacity of the AI phones, "Yu said.
Huawei is currently working on a folding phone that will debut next year and will be the company's first 5G phone. Yu also said augmented reality (AR) glasses are also in the factory. These new technologies can provide a growth engine for Huawei.
In turn, Samsung CEO DJ Koh told CNBC in a September interview that the company is shifting its strategy to mid-level smartphones to bring more innovative features to their phones at lower prices, a move that could help mitigate the threat of Huawei. This strategy was seen on the Galaxy A9, the world's first smartphone with a quad lens, launched in October.
And Samsung will not be easy to beat. It fell from the top spot in the smartphone market three times in the last five years, usually only by a quarter, according to data from Counterpoint Research.
Neil Shah, research director at Counterpoint, estimates that Huawei must sell between 30 and 40 million smartphones a quarter to beat Samsung.
But Shah said that Samsung's sales could stabilize due to fierce competition, which could help Huawei to become number one.
Yu's ambitions are bigger than smartphones. They want Huawei to start developing new products, such as laptops and smart speakers. Yu intends to create an ecosystem of intelligent devices.
"We want to take a leading role over the next ten years to become an integrated smart solution," Yu told CNBC.