How does a large company market a product on Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB)? By using the Facebook page of one of its senior executives? Huawei is about to find out whether that approach will work. And that, in turn, will tell something about Facebook’s power as a launch platform for corporate products, or its lack thereof. However, the likely failure of Huawei’s approach may not be Facebook’s fault at all.
Huawei top management member Richard Yu has used his personal Facebook page to hint that the company will release its Ascend P6 smartphone at the Roundhouse in London, a large venue in the U.K. city. The announcement is scheduled for June 18. The Wall Street Journal says about the Huawei smartphone launch:
Huawei, the world’s second-largest supplier of telecom network equipment after Sweden’s Ericsson, is trying to establish itself as a consumer brand by increasing marketing efforts. The outcome of the London event and subsequent sales of the P6 could determine the future of Huawei’s smartphone business, at a time when its core telecom equipment business faces more challenges due to security concerns raised by lawmakers in the U.S. and the U.K.
Huawei’s plan has two drawbacks. The first is that Yu’s Facebook page is confusing because it includes veiled messages from his company, primarily in the form the slogan “Make It Possible: Beauty Is Worth Waiting For.” The statement does not mean anything, which renders it worthless as a means to introduce the Ascend P6. Yu’s Facebook page further messes the message by including items like what he has eaten recently (“Delicious breakfast in London.”) and the location of the company’s new regional headquarters:
New home! We moved our UK rep office from Basing Stoke to Reading a few months ago. We expanded its capacity to fit a thousand people, and we’re loving the new neighborhood!
All in all, it is a stupid jumble of facts and comments.
Yu’s second mistake is that his Facebook page is a less than ideal place to hint about a product. The evidence shows there is very little traffic to his page. In Facebook lingo, Yu has only 1,127 people “talking about this” — “this” being the launch of the Ascend P6. Facebook may face some of the negativity for the lack of success of the campaign. However, most of the blame belongs with Yu’s fumbling.
The final error is has nothing to do with Facebook at all. It is that Huawei will enter an immensely crowded field with the Ascend P6. Huawei’s skill is in manufacturing phones, and not making products it will market directly to consumers. It has fallen into the trap that companies such as HTC, Sony Corp. (NYSE: SNE) and Google Inc.’s (NASDAQ: GOOG) Motorola have. Huawei wants to try to crack the unassailable lead held by Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) and Samsung. And Huawei has no brand in the sector, which makes its decision to compete with the two leaders a risky move it cannot win.