Chinese Tech Company You May Have Never Heard Of Plans To Be Bigger Than Samsung Or Apple

If you’re reading this on a smartphone in the U.S., odds are high that you’re using either an Apple iPhone or one of Samsung’s many Android-based devices. However, Samsung’s sales are flat and Apple’s phone sales are declining, all the while China’s Huawei is drinking their milkshake.

Huawei, which has primarily focused on lower-cost devices, has managed to increase its share of the global phone market to 8.3%, about one-third the size of Samsung’s 23%, and more than half of Apple’s 14%, as the iPhone has had difficulty winning over a Chinese audience.

Speaking at a Wall Street Journal conference in Hong Kong this week, the head of Huawei’s consumer electronics business said the goal is to reach a 25% market share within the next five years, and the company doesn’t intend to do it with cheap phones.

Huawei has invested some $9 billion in research and development, and partnered with higher-end suppliers like lensmaker Leica for its newer devices.

“Our growth is mainly coming from the high-end, premium segment,” explained Huawei’s Richard Yu. “If you want to be the leading vendor you have to lead in the high-end.”

The company has already had success in mainland Europe and the UK, but is largely unknown in the U.S. outside of tech-industry watchers, partly because of a 2012 Congressional report that recommended against the use of Huawei network technology out of concerns of potential data leaks to the Chinese government.

However, Yu says that those concerns are unfounded and won’t cast a shadow on Huawei’s efforts to crack the U.S. consumer market for phones.

“Consumers only want to have better products,” he explained.

The U.S. might not be as welcome as Yu expects. The NY Times reports that the U.S. Commerce Department has issued subpoenas to the company seeking information on its dealings in countries that are less than friendly with America, including Iran, North Korea, and Syria.

The subpoenas are not criminal in nature and Huawei is not being accused of any wrongdoing, but it’s an indication of how much scrutiny Chinese tech companies are going to face from U.S. lawmakers as these manufacturers expand into the global market.