July 31--Huawei Technologies Co, the world's fourth-largest handset maker, has set aside US$2.5 million to promote its first commercially available smartphone in Thailand this year.
Thomas Liu, the Thai unit's Southeast Asian managing director for devices, said Thailand and Myanmar are the top two potential smartphone markets in Asean for the company.
The company unveiled its Ascend P6 yesterday, which it dubbed the world's slimmest phone at 6.18 millimetres, with a 1.5-gigahertz quad-core processor.
Priced at 13,990 baht, it claims to have equal specifications to the high-end models like the Samsung S4 and iPhone 5.
Huawei plans to launch an entry-level phone priced below 3,000 baht next month to attract customers upcountry.
Mr Liu said Huawei is gearing up its marketing effort to build its local brand awareness after successfully manufacturing mobile phones for other companies on an original-equipment manufacturing basis.
"We took 25 years to grow our mobile network equipment business from nothing to No.2 in the market," he said.
Huawei plans to open its first store here this year, in Siam Paragon. Its dealers at present are JayMart, TGFone and mobile operators.
Yang Shu, Huawei's president and chief executive for Southeast Asia, said the company plans to build its brand awareness over the next 3-5 years.
"We expect to have a 5% share in the Thai market by 2015 and hope to become top five in the market," said Mr Yang.
He said aggressive marketing by mobile operators urging 3G migration will boost local smartphone demand to 10-12 million units this year from 6 million last year.
Smartphone sales in Thailand could top 15 million next year, said Mr Yang.
Huawei expects its mobile device revenue for the region to grow by 10-15% this year, up from $300 million last year.
The company plans to sell 2 million smartphones in Asean this year, up from 200,000 units in 2012.
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