Chinese smartphones attract Iraqi customers by hi-tech, price

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An Iraqi customer looks at a Chinese smart phone in Baghdad, Iraq. Xinhua

BAGHDAD (Xinhua) – Over the past seven years, the Iraqi customers have gradually been attracted to the Chinese smartphones for their usability and advanced technologies.

In 2008, the Chinese-made phones first entered into Iraqi market from unknown manufacturers, but found a foothold due to their considerable low prices, new technologies such as touch screen, loud speakers, and deferent designs.

Shortly after, due to the constant breakdowns and short life, the Chinese phones were out of the competition compared to the dominant mobiles of Nokia and Samsung.

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However, new class of Chinese smartphone manufacturers quickly came up as tech giants in the world markets, many of them found profitable niches in the Iraqi markets as well as in the world markets.

The crowded thoroughfare of al-Rubaie in eastern Baghdad has become the hotspot of wholesalers of cellphones, accessories, and spare parts. The shops there are also supplying other smartphone markets in other Baghdad’s districts and across Iraq as well.

The Chinese smartphones widely spread in the thoroughfare, and Iraqis can easily point their fingers on any shop sign and they can find a Chinese smartphone logos.

In 2013, Huawei was the first Chinese smartphone manufacturer that played instrumental role in changing the stereotype of the Chinese smartphones among the Iraqi consumers.

The company, introduced itself with competitive priced devices with modern technology, as it has slowly built its base in the country over the past seven years, is now reaping the benefits.

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Ahmed Hashim, sales manager of Huawei for central and south of Iraq, told Xinhua that his office managed to penetrate the market and gained the customers trust gradually.

Nowadays, Huawei has surpassed Apple and it comes second only to Samsung in the Iraqi market. The company’s market share is growing steadily year after year, powered by a cutting-edge technology.

According to Mr Hashim, Huawei sold between 1,400,000 to 1,600,000 devices valued at 280 million dollars in 2018, and that made Huawei the second selling company in Iraqi tech market.

Now, Huawei is selling no less than 150,000 devices a month in all over Iraq.

“We were number one in the world in selling the Huawei P Smart with 1,800 devices sold on the first day,” Mr Hashim added.

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“Huawei phones are increasingly getting more attention and trust from the Iraqi customers because of its reliable hardware, modern technologies, reasonable value, and cheap spare parts compared to other phone manufacturers,” Mr Hashim added.

“Huawei, like many other companies in the Iraqi market, faces two major problems, unstable customs procedures and tariffs that lead to a fluctuation in the market,” Mr Hashim concluded.

The Iraqi customers also knew Honor, which is the sub-brand of Huawei group, since it is part of Huawei production line. Honor company entered the Iraqi market about one year ago.

Ali Abbas, marketing manager of Honor for central and south of Iraq, told Xinhua that “in one year, Honor smartphones reached a market share of 11 percent and are going up steadily.”

“The high demand on Honor phones is due to the marketing plan, high quality devices and state-of-the-art designs,” said Mr Abbas whose office is the exclusive authorized distributor in Iraq.

“We have got the first place in the Middle East for selling the 8X midrange device and we surpassed Samsung sales in Iraq in the first quarter of 2019,” Mr Abbas added.

Iraqi consumers knew Oppo smartphones through grey market traders (with no official supplier authorization) in 2016 which was making weak presence in the Iraqi market, but after Oppo managed to get global attention in mid-2018 with their unique and innovative Oppo Find X, the Iraqi consumers became attentive as well.

Ayman al-Badri, sales manager of Oppo Iraq, told Xinhua that “Oppo phones have done exceptionally well in the still-developing markets of India and Southeast Asia, where it shoved aside the former leader Samsung with low-cost, high-quality phones that look much more expensive than they are.”

“We believe it will do the same in Iraq in the foreseeable future,” Mr al-Badri said as he was showing one of Oppo’s smartphones.

“Oppo will open a regional office in Iraq soon in order to promote its products and assist the authorized distributor,” he said, adding that opening the office “reflects the importance and potentials of the Iraqi market to Oppo.”

Mr Al-Badri also said that in the first quarter of 2019, our market share in Iraq went up from three percent to five percent.

“We currently sale about 10,000 device a month, and that’s only the beginning,” he added.

“The Iraqi market is so active and the purchasing power is high, a recent statistic shows that 350,000 device sold and activated monthly in all over Iraq,” Mr al-Badri said, adding “due to that, the number of retail shops in Baghdad alone increased 12 percent from 1,200 to 1,350.”

Samsung, which ousted Nokia from the Iraqi market about a decade ago, remains number one, but is feeling the heat of the Chinese phones as well as its market share decreasing bite by bite.

Mahmoud al-Anbagi, a retail shop owner in al-Mansour upscale neighborhood, told Xinhua that “Chinese phone sales has become a powerhouse nowadays.”

“A lot of Iraqi consumers prefer it over other expensive devices because of its beautiful design, up to date technology, and reasonable prices,” Mr al-Anbagi said.

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