In Vienna, Chinese cellphone brand Huawei is soon opening its first store outside of China. While it claims it is already the second largest smartphone supplier in Austria, it is looking to strengthen its position in the rest of Europe.
Offensive begins in Austria
Huawei will be opening a flagship store in Vienna this summer, Reuters has found out: it will be the brand's first store outside of its domestic market of China. The company chose Austria because of the strong position the brand claims to already have in that country: with a marketshare of 28 %, Huawei claims to be the second biggest smartphone supplier in Austria.
The opening of the store is part of a campaign to win the heart of the European market: being a Chinese company with ties to the government, the brand is outlawed in the United States, which also calls for its allies to follow their example. Huawei allegedly makes government espionage possible through their phones, but the brand emphatically denies this.
"We have never been asked by any government or any authority anywhere in the world... to do anything that would compromise or jeopardize... the security of customer networks. If we ever are asked to do so, we will refuse," Vice President of Corporate Communications Joe Kelly said at the announcement of the new store.
Huawei wants to introduce Europe to 5G
Nevertheless, the European Union is currently investigating whether or not the telecommunications company should be restrained. Also under investigation is the question of whether or not the brand should be allowed to set up 5G networks in Europe. The Chinese smartphone manufacturer is eager to make that investment. In Austria in particular, Huawei is ready to start collaborating with local operators to establish 5G networks, according to Austrian top executive Pan Yao.
Austria, which has long been lagging behind in the field of broadband internet, is one of the first EU countries looking to switch to 5G and the government is hoping to sell the rights to it to telecom providers soon. Huawei is already working together with all three major telecom groups in the country. Yao said the company is also considering to invest in research and development, but no additional information was released on those plans.
Despite the controversy, and the fact that the brand does not have access to the very important American market, Huawei is one of the fastest-growing smartphone companies in the world. External reports put the brand in third place, after Samsung and Apple.