Huawei (pronounced "Wah-way") is truly a force to be reckoned with in global telecoms. It is the world's biggest manufacturer of mobile infrastructure equipment, supplying all but a handful of the top 50 telecoms providers globally, now with almost 29% global market share, well ahead of rivals Nokia (17%), Ericsson (13%), Cisco and ZTE (both 8%). More recently, it has also turned its attention to the consumer market, launching its own handsets with considerable success. In 2013, it became the global #3 in smartphones behind Samsung and Apple, and moved up to second place for the first time mid-2018 ahead of Apple. Total volumes for 2019 topped 240m units, but fell back in 2020 to 189m. (See latest figures here). Key handset models include the top-of-the-range P30 series, the Mate (equivalent to Samsung's Galaxy), P20 and P10. (Mid-priced sub-brand Honor was sold in 2020 to a state-led consortium of retailers and investors). Huawei also makes laptops and tablets. On the back of this success it became the first Chinese brand to enter Interbrand's annual ranking of Best Global Brands in 2014. The business was only established in 1987, originally as the agent in mainland China for a Hong Kong company manufacturing network components. It began developing its own network hardware a decade later, and its first smartphones in 2012. It is a private company owned collectively by its employees, rather than a state-owned enterprise. However, Western governments have become increasingly wary of Huawei's power. Huawei's networking equipment had already been unofficially banned in the US in 2012 over fears it could be used by the Chinese government to eavesdrop on communications, a suggestion the company wholly denies. The Trump administration ramped up the pressure significantly, encouraging allies to join that ban while also seeking to prevent US companies from doing business with Huawei. Several Western countries followed suit in banning the use of Huawei network infrastructure, and Huawei was obliged to quickly develop its own smartphone OS after it was barred from using the full version of Google's Android software. Financially, that pressure began to be felt towards the end of 2020 with a sharp fall in revenues in the second half of the year, but the full year total hit a new high of approx $129bn (CNY 891.4bn) with net profit of approx $9.4bn. China itself accounted for two-thirds of revenues, and consumer devices for a little over half. Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei remains CEO but he shares management responsibility with a team of partners who rotate the role of chairman between them. One of the most senior of these is his daughter "Sabrina" Meng Wanzhou, also company CFO. She has so far spent more than a year under house arrest in Canada fighting extradition to the US over allegations that Huawei violated sanctions on business with Iran.
Capsule checked 2nd January 2020
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Adbrands Daily Update 31st Jul 2020: Huawei's infrastructure business may be under prolonged attack from the US government and Western allies, but the handset division remains strong. For 2Q 2020, Huawei overtook Samsung for the first time to become the world's top-selling mobile brand, according to figures from IDC. Total global handset volumes slipped 16% compared to the year-ago quarter, but Huawei's volumes fell by only 5% while Samsung's plunged by almost 29%. As a result, the Chinese company ended up with 20.0% market share, compared to Samsung's 19.5%. Apple was the only one of the five leaders to increase handset sales, with volumes up over 11% to 13.5% global share.
Adbrands Daily Update 3rd Feb 2020: Latest global smartphone research from IDC reflects the stellar results recently posted by Apple for the final three months of 2019. The huge popularity of the iPhone 11 allowed Apple to leapfrog Samsung for the first time in three years to become the #1 smartphone brand by global shipments. Precisely one out of every five smartphones purchased in the holiday quarter was made by Apple, ahead of Samsung with 18.8% share. Huawei slipped back to third place on 15.2%. However iPhone 11's end-of-year surge wasn't enough to change the full year ranking. It remained in the #3 spot behind Samsung and Huawei. Xiaomi and Oppo held their customary positions as #4 and #5.
Adbrands Daily Update 10th Jun 2019: Several US companies have pushed back at the Trump administration's ban on trading with Huawei, warning of the considerable risks and economic impact that will ensue. Among the most prominent protestors was Google, which has already announced that it will not supply future iterations of the full Android operating system to Huawei. However it warned the government that this will encourage the Chinese company to develop its own hybrid OS which is likely to be far more susceptible to hacking. That could create a serious security risk for the millions of US customers who already own Huawei phones. The White House's acting director of budget Russell Vought also voiced his concerns over the impact on rural telecoms companies - many of whom are already key suppliers to local government agencies and receive federal grants - but whose networks are built around Huawei technology.
Adbrands Daily Update 21st May 2019: The most serious blow to-date to Huawei from its battle with the US government is Google's announcement that it will block the company from receiving new versions of the full Android operating system, used in virtually all its handsets. That follows on from the government's addition of Huawei to its "Entity List" ban, prohibiting US companies from selling technology to the Chinese business without a specific license. Current users will not be affected, but Huwaei will potentially be banned from using the full version of the next "Q" iteration of Android, due in August. The company will still be able to use the simplified open source version. Shortly after Google's announcement, the government issued a temporary reprieve to allow US companies more time to arrange their affairs but the ban is still expected to come into force by mid-summer. Several other companies have subsequently joined Google in boycott including Intel, ARM, Qualcomm and Panasonic.
Adbrands Daily Update 16th May 2019: In the latest escalation of the US trade war with China in general and Huawei in particular, President Trump signed an executive order that will allow the administration to officially ban the import of telecoms products and services from unnamed "foreign adversaries". That could include Huawei, ZTE and other Chinese-owned suppliers. At the same time, the Commerce Department said it was adding Huawei to its prohibited "Entity List". This bars the company from purchasing any US-made technology, including components, without a license.
Adbrands Daily Update 1st May 2019: New research from market watcher IDC puts Huawei within reach of overtaking Samsung as the global leader in smartphones before the end of this year. In 1Q 2019, Huawei's volumes jumped by over 50% year-on-year to 59.1m devices, putting it within striking distance of Samsung, whose volumes slipped 8% to just under 72m. The biggest loser among the global leaders was Apple, whose volumes plunged by more than 30% to 36.4m units.
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