Huawei beefs up design team, to launch more high-end smartphones

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China’s Huawei Technologies Co., which makes mobile devices and telecom equipment, is beefing up its design team as it aims to raise the profile of its own-brand phones, and plans to launch more mid- to high-end smartphones later this year in its bid to gain market share in a competitive, but fast-growing market.

“We will announce within this year a series of mid- to high-end range phones,” said Hagen Fendler, chief design director for handsets at Shenzhen-based Huawei, in a recent interview.”We want to be the top three player within the next five years and in order to do that, we have to broaden out our portfolio.”

The move to focus more on expensive mobile phones would mark a strategic change for the privately owned Huawei, founded in 1987 by Ren Zhengfei, who previously served in the People’s Liberation Army of China.

Click here to find out more!Huawei began as a supplier of low-cost telecommunications equipment to carriers. As sales and its operations grew–the company’s revenue in the first half of 2011 amounted to US$15.2 billion–Huawei has been branching out into the devices business, first supplying data cards and eventually offering handsets to carriers on an original design manufacturer, or ODM, basis. But since last year, Huawei has been building up its own-brand mobile devices including smartphones and tablet computers as these market are taking off.

Raising its profile in handsets may be more critical especially in markets like the U.S. where its equipment business has faced some stumbling blocks. In November last year, a U.S. House intelligence committee investigation was announced to look into whether the expansion into the U.S. by Huawei and rival ZTE Corp. represented a security threat.

Last month, at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the company unveiled a high-end smartphone called Ascend D Quad, based on Google Inc.’s Android operating software. The phone comes with a 4.5-inch high-definition touchscreen, a powerful quad-core processor and full-HD video capturing capability. The phone is expected to be in the market in the second half of this year, Fendler said, declining to comment on the price or give a more specific time frame.