During the Fortune Global Forum 2023 which took place last week in Abu Dhabi, we had the opportunity to sit down with top Honor executives; Ray Guo, Honor’s CMO, and Honor MEA President, Daniel Wang.
We touched on important points such as foldable phones, Honor’s plans for expansion in the region, and much more.
We’ve experienced one of the best foldable phones from Honor (The Honor Magic V2) with incredible thinness and weight. Why is it taking so long to release globally? Aren’t you worried that its specs will be old by the time it comes out next year?
Ray Guo: Yes, the Magic V2 will be available very soon in the region. Before we release any new devices, we study the market deeply and we have different surveys to gauge the consumer’s interest in buying something different than the usual form factor.
The foldable phones have different use scenarios that fit different customers’ demands with it working as a 3-in-one device. We think differently about our products and how we can be innovative with them, our aim is always to break boundaries with our new products. That’s why we introduced the V-Purse accessories and themes that used the outer display to enable the users to express themselves uniquely and fashionably.
Will we see Honor release its first-ever flip phone anytime soon?
Ray Guo: Yes, a flip phone from Honor is coming. One of the challenges of Android phones is that it’s heavily biased toward male users and Flip phones are more appealing to women. Besides that, it’s something different that people love to have and use.
With the great achievements and sales figures Honor is accomplishing in the region, can we expect you to open a flagship store in the UAE to showcase all your smart devices and solutions?
Daniel Wang: This is a good question. We launched our first Honor brand store in the GCC in Dammam, Saudi Arabia. We recently began discussions with Emaar, about having a brand shop in Dubai Mall or Dubai Hills Mall but unfortunately, they don’t currently have a suitable space to open a brand store.
I think it’s important to have a brand shop soon and we’re working to find a suitable place. It will also help us cement our relationship with our customers and give them a space to experience our products and interact directly with us if they face any problems.
Honor has been great about hardware, but the software needs some more maturing. Are you expanding R&D into your OS?
Daniel Wang: For the software I want to clarify that we use Google’s OS as a base. With that being said, for Honor, we invest in our own tailor-made UI to improve the consumer’s experience. Magic OS 7 now has a lot of smart features that enhance the users’ experience. For example, when you book a flight, your phone will send reminders to you before the flight and also send the gate’s number when it opens.
So I can confirm that we work really hard to enhance the software experience in all of our products.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced expanding the brand globally, especially in the Middle East. Which countries in the Middle East have been your best performing, and which ones need more help?
Daniel Wang: The best-performing markets in this region are Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Iraq. In Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, we’ve had very stable operations and performance because the economy is stable and the currency is not fluctuating. In Iraq, our market share is over 24% which is really great. But, sometimes we face some currency fluctuations that affect us negatively.
We have plans to expand our business in Kuwait, Oman, and Qatar. GCC markets are really important to us and we give high focus on expanding our business here. We also focus on building the brand’s headquarters in the region with our offices being present in the UAE and KSA.
With this year coming to an end, how would you describe 2023 for Honor? And what are your areas of focus for 2024?
Daniel Wang: 2023 has been great for us, we’ve achieved a 2 times increase in terms of the volume of our business in the region.
Our goal for the next year is to have 100% growth in this market because we have exciting products coming up in 2024. We also have a strong portfolio of great products that we offer to our customers in each price segment.
We’re optimistic about 2024 since we’ve built a very good relationship with our customers on top of our deep understanding of the market. We also work closely with local retailers to provide great after sale services to our customers.
Mostafa’s journey in the tech journalism industry began during his teenage years, fueled by his childhood fascination with PC hardware, technology, and video games. Recently, his interests have expanded to include Esports and regional competitions.