Huawei Focused on Building Culture of R&D in India: Rishi Gupta, VP, Consumer Business

Customer-centricity has been the cornerstone of Huawei’s strategy in India and this is what differentiates us. We understand the need of our consumers and have always strived to make meaningful innovations that are accessible and affordable to all, says Rishi Kishore Gupta, Vice President, Consumer Business Group, Huawei India.

Highlights

  • Huawei has a long-term strategy for the Indian market and the focus in 2021 was to strengthen the smart wearable portfolio.
  • Almost every industry has been affected by the shortage of semiconductor chips, including consumer technology.
  • In an effort to recover from this crisis, Huawei has been actively investing in various companies to boost the manufacturing of these semiconductor chips.

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At a time when the world is reeling under acute semiconductor shortage, we believe the latest initiative and policies introduced by the Government will ensure India’s place in the global map of hi-tech production hubs. Electronics plays an important role in everyday life, and semiconductor chips form a crucial part of electronics, Rishi Kishore Gupta, Vice President, Consumer Business Group, Huawei India, told TelecomTalk.

Q1. How was Huawei India’s performance YoY during CY2021, and what is the company’s outlook for 2022?

Huawei has a long-term strategy for the Indian market, and our focus in 2021 was to strengthen our smart wearable portfolio. In the second half of 2021, we launched a range of wearables packed with class-leading, first of its kind features. These include Huawei Band 6, Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro, Huawei FreeBuds 4i, and Huawei Watch Fit. Our latest range of wearables has seen some great success since its launch in the Indian market. Huawei Band 6 has, especially, received a lot of public appreciation and praise owing to the premium yet practical features packed in the smart band and its affordability.

Owing to the dynamic situation, the market and consumer landscape is fast evolving. While we shall remain nimble and adjust our strategy according to the market dynamics, as a customer-centric brand, our primary focus remains on addressing consumer needs through meaningful and futuristic innovations. We believe as a consumer technology company, it is imperative to constantly listen to the needs of the consumers and launch products that address their needs to be successful in today’s market. Further, our relationship and harmony with our partners and the industry will also play a major role in our growth plans in India.

Q2. Where do you think Huawei fits as a unique option for Indian consumers?

Customer-centricity has been the cornerstone of Huawei’s strategy in India, and this is what differentiates us. We understand the need of our consumers and have always strived to make meaningful innovations that are accessible and affordable to all. Through our diverse product offerings, we have always aimed to democratise technology and ensure our flagship features are not just limited to our premium offerings but across our product portfolio.

At Huawei, we have always given a lot of importance to extensive R&D basis the needs of the consumers and our differentiated offerings at an affordable price-point is what set us apart. While launching the Huawei FreeBuds 4i, we introduced class-lead ANC in our earphones, something that was otherwise available earlier only in the premium segments. We also introduced the first of its kind animated personal trainer in the Huawei Watch Fit, redefined the standards of performance and productivity of a smartwatch with Huawei Watch GT 2 Pro and revolutionised the design of a fitness band when we launched the Huawei Band 6. We believe it’s these meaningful and future-ready innovations that have helped us create a niche for ourselves.

Moreover, for an important market like India, we have a very focused yet dynamic strategy that ensures we level up our ante wherever there’s an opportunity. Over the years, we have remained focused on every department of our business here, be it our services, sales, marketing, or community. We believe it is this focus and long-term commitment towards the market that always has and will continue to give us an edge over our competition.

Q3. The demand for smart wearables is growing across the world, including India; how does Huawei plan to navigate through the rising demand?

The wearable market in India was already on the growth curve and has been further accelerated by the evolving consumer preferences, increased focus on wellbeing and demand for feature-rich technology solutions that would make daily activities more convenient. In the last year, India has become the fastest-growing wearable market globally.

At Huawei, we have constantly been listening to the needs and identifying the requirements of our customers while developing products that are not just meaningful now but are future-ready. Our focus has been on bringing the latest technology to India that is versatile, efficient, and relevant. All our products undergo extensive R&D to ensure that our products don’t just seamlessly fit into the consumer’s lifestyle but make life more convenient.

We have our second largest R&D centre in the country that not just focuses on developing India-specific innovations but developing innovations for the world. Currently, we are working to bring some of the most loved and anticipated features in the global markets to the Indian market and are optimistic about the continued demand for our products.

Q4. What are the key drivers of sales for Huawei in India?

The premium quality, meaningful innovations, and affordable price has always been the biggest driver of sales for Huawei, and it remains the same even today. Moreover, Huawei has a loyal customer base in India who love and admire our devices and have stood by us throughout our journey. Our products are revered by many, and being the best-seller is a testament to the position we enjoy in the market. We are confident, with the help of our local partners, we will be able to make our products more accessible to our consumers and subsequently drive bigger sales.

Q5. Where do you think the tech industry is moving towards in the next three to five years?

The wearable market in India has seen nothing but a vertical takeoff in the last two years and is expected to remain on a growth trajectory for the next five. Accelerated by the increased focus on wellbeing, wearables are becoming an integral part of the daily lifestyle. While various restrictions over the last two years may have limited the ability to go to the gym or at times even step out of the house, technology has come as a ray of hope.

With rapid development in artificial intelligence, we can expect fast growth in the prevalence of AI-powered personal trainer applications. As a forerunner in tech innovations, Huawei has already introduced the first of its kind animated fitness trainer in the latest Huawei Watch Fit. These applications, while giving users free one-on-one personal training, also monitor various vitals offering real-time user feedback. In the coming years, AI is expected to further develop personalised workout routines, as it can accurately predict safe and optimal workout schedules taking into account age, fitness levels, and body mass.

Living in today’s connected world, AI and IoT are going to be key aspects in the future of technology globally. We have already started aligning with these aspects because while wellness might be the sole focus today, it is artificial intelligence that is going to revolutionise the wearable industry in the future. At Huawei, technology and innovation have been at the heart of everything we do. Having laid a strong emphasis on design, innovation, and superior experience, our devices have resonated well with our customers. We continue to constantly invest in our R&D and strive to address the needs of our consumers with technology that is both essential and usable to everyone.

Q6. Huawei already has the largest R&D Centre in India, outside China. Does the company plan to start manufacturing locally as well in the near future?

With a commitment to partner with India in its digitisation journey, Huawei will make every effort towards making that happen. While we have plans to manufacture our products locally in India in partnership with our manufacturing partners, our focus currently remains on further building on the culture of R&D in the country. We look at India strategically and will continue to invest in our business here as we diversify and grow our footprint in the country. Huawei was among the first movers to build in India its largest R&D Centre, and that underscores our fidelity to our long-term plans for the Indian market.

Q7. What are your views on the developments around semiconductor manufacturing in India? How has Huawei faced the chip shortage, and when do you think the chip problems will be alleviated?

At a time when the world is reeling under acute semiconductor shortage, we believe the latest initiative and policies introduced by the Government will ensure India’s place in the global map of hi-tech production hubs. Electronics plays an important role in everyday life, and semiconductor chips form a crucial part of electronics. These schemes are expected to usher in a new era in electronics manufacturing.

Almost every industry has been affected by the shortage of semiconductor chips, including consumer technology. In an effort to recover from this crisis, Huawei has been actively investing in various companies to boost the manufacturing of these semiconductor chips that practically are the backbone of electronics manufacturing.

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