Should Apple be worried about Huawei?

BARCELONA (REUTERS) - In the rush for new technology, their presence is hard to ignore. The fastest growing major smartphone vendor of 2015, Huawei is centre stage at this year's Mobile World Congress.

Huawei Consumer Group's executive vice-president Colin Giles said: "If any player globally wants to be serious, to be a world leader, you've got to have China."

Huawei certainly has that. Their high-volume, low-margin strategy helped ship 108 million handsets last year, up 44 per cent on 2014.

And Giles says it will not stop there, even with China's slowdown: "You know I think that actually works to our advantage. Because we've got a lot of momentum on our side right now, and we've got a really good efficient machine that's working."

To challenge the big guns though, that machine may need to change, says Gartner's Roberta Cozza, especially when it comes to Western markets.

Cozza said: "The majority of the user base already owns a premium smartphone. It's a replacement market mainly. So users are very knowledgeable, they know what they want, and in their replacement intention they would look for innovation."

The Google-partnered Nexus 6P is designed to address that - a slow-motion camera earning reviews that rival the iPhone's.

Then there is the new Matebook, a Windows hybrid with a pressure-sensitive stylus. But in many cases, says USwitch's Rob Kerr, the message just isn't coming across.

Kerr said: "It just needs the consumer to be aware of them, and then from that, there's a big tie-in, the networks to be aware of them, to list their phones, to retail their phones, to put it in the mind of the consumers and in the hands of the consumers more importantly."

For now, Huawei remains a distant third, with its 7.5 per cent share of the global market still three times less than Samsung's.