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Huawei has plans to overthrow Samsung and Apple — it's got a long way to go in a growing market

Key Points
  • India is an important market for Chinese smartphone maker Huawei, which reportedly is planning to capture about 10 percent of market share
  • Huawei recently launched its Honor 9i smartphone in the country
  • Reports said the Honor 9i will be available only on Indian e-commerce platform Flipkart
Huawei India Head Jay Chen, fourth from left, at a press conference in New Delhi on August 12, 2015.a
Money Sharma | AFP | Getty Images

India is a major strategic market for Chinese smartphone maker Huawei, a senior executive at the company told CNBC this week.

Jay Chen, CEO at Huawei India, said that in the company's near two-decade presence in the country, it has made sizable investments and formed key partnerships in the telecommunications sector.

"We really believe India is one of the most important strategy market in Huawei's global layout," Chen told CNBC at the sidelines of the India Economic Summit in New Delhi. He added that the company has played a "more and more important role in the India market," and that it has "many strategic partnerships with the India telecom industry."

While the company may have deep ties to the telecoms business, its consumer business is still trying to carve a place in India's massive smartphone market.

According to Counterpoint Research, Samsung was the market leader by smartphone shipment in India for the second quarter of 2017. The South Korean giant was followed by Xiaomi, Vivo, OPPO and Lenovo (which includes its Motorola business).

Huawei's absence among the top five smartphone vendors in India is notable. It is currently the third-largest smartphone vendor by shipments globally, and has ambitions to usurp both Samsung and Apple.

September-quarter data on smartphone shipments by volume, both globally and locally, have yet to be revealed by most research firms.

On Thursday, Huawei introduced a new handset in the country — the Honor 9i smartphone, which has a 5.9-inch display, 4GB of RAM and dual front and dual rear cameras. The model, reports said, will be sold exclusively on Indian e-commerce platform Flipkart for about 17,999 rupees ($275.91).

Despite the competition, earlier this year Huawei reportedly set a target of capturing 10 percent market share in the Indian smartphone segment by the end of the year.

Chen said Huawei has developed channels and formed partnerships with e-commerce platforms. "In the last couple of years, Huawei's [been] one of the pioneers to do business on the e-commerce platform, especially for the smartphone business," he said.

The e-commerce push is likely a bid to raise Huawei's profile among Indian consumers — many of whom tend to purchase electronic gadgets from sites like Flipkart or Snapdeal.

Huawei's telecommunications business is also working with other telecoms and partners to develop India's 5G (fifth-generation mobile networks) ecosystem.

In 2015, Huawei said it was investing $170 million in a new research and development campus in Bangalore that can house up to 5,000 engineers. Last year, the company also announced it was going to start locally manufacturing smartphones.