Huawei said to be gearing up for smart TV foray

January 29, 2019 16:58
A product presentation at Huawei in Beijing. The Chinese smartphone giant is reportedly set to enter the smart TV business this year. Photo: Reuters

Huawei Technologies, the Chinese telecoms equipment and smartphone giant, is preparing to enter the television business, according to mainland media.

The Shenzhen-headquartered firm will launch smart TVs from Honor, the group's mid-range smartphone sub-brand, as early as April, and later in the year from the Huawei brand itself, financial news platform Yicai reports.

Citing insiders in the electrical appliances and television industry, Yicai said Huawei will officially go into the television business in 2019.

The company is said to have actively contacted people in the industry to seek advice on building sales and distribution channels and launch marketing campaigns.

Huawei’s smart TV, featuring 5G network communication technology, will reportedly be positioned in the middle and high-end market segments, instead of competing with domestic peers, like Xiaomi (01810.HK) and TCL (01070.HK), in the low-priced segment.

The new smart TV business will be managed under Huawei’s Internet of Things (IoT) division as a component of its lineup of smart home devices, Yicai noted.

An insider was quoted as saying that Huawei is moving forward to launch a lineup of 4K, and even 8K televisions, which will see 33 million pixels crammed into a display, with plans to offer high-resolution content to users, which could drive demand for 5G network connection.

The Chinese telecommunications giant has been a leading player in investing hugely in 5G network technology. The group launched its first core chip specifically designed for 5G base stations, claiming it can support large-scale 5G network deployment around the world.

Due to lack of 4K high-resolution content, the penetration rate of 4K TVs in mainland China has not been optimal, a situation that Huawei wants to change.

Market observers expect Huawei’s smart TV plan, along with its smartphones, personal computers, mobile devices, and smart speakers, would leverage the group's edge in cloud service and artificial intelligence-powered technology.

Rather than just be a smart TV manufacturer, Huawei’s plan is expected to be more about the interconnection between various smart home devices.

Last week, Huawei said it could become the world’s biggest-selling smartphone vendor "at the earliest this year, and next year at the latest", besting current top player Samsung, even without the US market and as global scrutiny of the firm intensifies.

If Huawei's plans for new smart TVs succeed, the market will see a serious competitor to Xiaomi’s Mi TVs. Xiaomi has been building its IoT ecosystem in recent years, claiming to have sold 132 million consumer devices connected in its IoT ecosystem (excluding mobile phones and laptops).

Xiaomi co-founder and CEO Lei Jun has said the combination of artificial intelligence and IoT will be the core strategy of his company’s business in ten years, with a goal to “allow users to fully embrace AI in daily life at home.”

Early this month, Xiaomi announced it had bought a stake in Chinese home appliance maker TCL (000100.SZ), forging an alliance to work on developing smart products and electronic devices.

Huawei's planned foray into smart TVs comes as the Chinese telecoms equipment firm has been facing some troubles amid escalating trade tensions between China and the United States.

On Monday, the US Justice Department charged Huawei, its chief financial officer and two affiliates with bank and wire fraud to violate sanctions against Iran.

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