'It is time for us to develop our international market,' says a Chinese smartphone brand

Key Points
  • Honor, a Huawei brand that sells smartphones targeted at younger consumers, wants to expand its business outside China by 2020.
  • The brand wants to have a 50-50 split in smartphone sales in China and overseas markets, according to George Zhao, president of Honor.
  • Zhao said some of Honor's potential growth markets include Russia, India and Indonesia.
  • Smartphones in China declined in the first three months of the calendar year, according to reports from multiple research firms.

Chinese smartphone makers have gained global prominence, helped by companies like Huawei and Xiaomi, challenging incumbents Samsung and Apple in key markets.

Now, a Huawei brand called Honor has set its sights on increasing its international presence in the next few years.

The brand wants to split its smartphone sales 50-50 between China and overseas markets by 2020, according to George Zhao, president of Honor.

"It is time for us to develop our international market," Zhao told CNBC's Nancy Hungerford on Thursday in Beijing. "Based on our strategy, we will use three years to duplicate another China success."

The Honor line of smartphones, targeted to younger consumers, are relatively cheaper than Huawei's high-end models. That has allowed the world's third-largest smartphone vendor to compete both with the likes of Samsung and Apple in the high-end market, but also make inroads with its low-end handsets.

When asked about potential growth markets for Honor outside China, Zhao pointed to Russia, India and Indonesia, adding that the brand could also look to other countries in Europe, Asia Pacific and the Middle East.

India is one of the largest smartphone markets in the world.

Recently, a report from Counterpoint Research said the Honor brand was the No. 5 in the Indian smartphone market for the first time, due to the popularity of the Honor 9 Lite and Honor 7X smartphones.

But the same report also noted that the Indian smartphone market remained flat on-year in the first quarter of 2018.

Similarly, smartphones have not fared better this year in China. Reports from Counterpoint, as well as research firm Canalys, said smartphone sales in the mainland saw a notable decline in the three months that ended in March.

Zhao said the United States remained a potential long-term market for Honor. He explained that the brand made inroads in the U.S. by selling its Honor View 10 and Honor 7X smartphones earlier this year.

Huawei has struggled to establish its presence in the U.S. and recently said at its annual analyst summit that it would increasingly look to Europe to grow its international market share in high-end devices.