Hit but never sunk, Huawei is stronger than ever


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While US tech giants have been laying off workers in recent months, one tech heavyweight has done just the opposite: China’s Huawei. If the “losses” on the US side – amplified by rushed recruiting during the “COVID years” – count in the thousands of positions at Microsoft, Intel and others, it’s 10,000 people who joined Huawei last year. ” A phenomenon that is mainly related to the fact that we ourselves have to develop technologies that the United States prohibits us “Weiliang Shi and Minggang Zhang, the president and deputy general manager of Huawei France, respectively, calmly explain to us.

Weiliang Shi and Minggang Zhang, president and deputy general manager of Huawei France.

Weiliang Shi and Minggang Zhang, president and deputy general manager of Huawei France. © Adrian BRANCO / 01net.com

With astonishing (and refreshing) candor, and without the slightest hint of bitterness, the two men shared with us the state of affairs. China’s number 1 in technology and the world’s largest R&D investor after Google/Alphabet, Huawei was given for ” rounded “, ” dead “even “Leaving France to refocus on the domestic market”. Words that don’t even cringe when asked. ” At the beginning of the year, we celebrate our 20th anniversary in France. And when you see the MWC booth in Barcelona, do you really think we’re leaving France or Europe?! Mr. Shi asks with a smile.

You have to be at the Mobile World Congress show, the world’s largest telecom show in Barcelona to fully understand the issue. Huawei’s booth is so big (the most imposing in the show) that it takes up an entire hangar! On the one hand, a public part, with consumer and network products. And on the other hand, a four times larger surface where the Chinese group shows its latest innovations… company. Because if you thought that Huawei was only about smartphones, tablets and 4G routers, then you have missed most things!

Huawei has expanded its activities


The various attacks in the US prevented Huawei from continuing to produce its own smartphone chips and prevented it from accessing Google Mobile Services. Literally erasing the smartphones of the former world number one from Western markets. © Adrian BRANCO / 01net.com

In 2018, it is the earthquake for the number 1 in the world in smartphones and 5G: the US administration of Donald Trump is going to “war” against Huawei. Huawei and its subsidiary HiSilicon are banned from having their chips manufactured by TSMC and Samsung and lose the right to make their own chips. Banned from Google Mobile Services, the company lost its crown as a smartphone leader as the West couldn’t do without Gmail and other Google Maps.

Read also: We visited the French R&D center that made Huawei the king of smartphone photography (October 2022)​

Banned from equipping core networks, Huawei is losing some of its dominance in 5G in Western countries and their allies (Japan, Korea, etc.) and under threat.

Huawei booth MWC2023

If Huawei continues to develop and produce consumer electronics, this branch will weigh only 20% of the company’s sales. © Adrian BRANCO / 01net.com

Far from being stuck in its lost markets – though the smartphone remains a touchy subject – the company is adapting. Even faster than she would have. ” Since our establishment in China in 1987, our first company was telecom. But this sector can no longer really grow as in some countries the penetration rate is already at 100%. “explains Weiliang Shi.

The company was already targeting other segments, but the US mistreatment accelerated everything. To the three traditional “pillars” of telecom networks, consumer equipment and so-called “enterprise” activities, Huawei has since added energy (solar inverters), called “Digital Power”the cloud (Huawei is number 2 in China) and the connected car.

Huawei Energy Stand MWC2023

Networks, cloud, but also energy: Huawei has diversified strongly to no longer depend solely on telecom and smartphones. © Adrian BRANCO / 01net.com

In all these activities, the weight of the consumer division has now been diluted. And while Huawei hasn’t abandoned smartphones, the group’s main focus is on more floating divisions. Because if Huawei continues to develop and sell terminals in China (6e seller), the local market is at its lowest point in a decade.

Read also: “Huawei will not abandon smartphones”: exclusive interview with Huawei Europe boss (May 2022)​

However, all its other pillars are booming everywhere. Yes, also in Europe and elsewhere. And yes, also when it comes to telecom and cloud, while the company has been told “banned”Or “expelled”. The reality is that the Chinese are still here. And counts, to seduce, both on its technologies and on a strategy of transparency.

Huawei plays the transparency card

Huawei Cloud MWC2023

With its status as a “suspect” company, Huawei has been forced to behave more transparently and virtuously to entice its customers. It is therefore one of the few companies that offers to set up cloud systems for which it then leaves the keys completely. © Adrian BRANCO / 01net.com

With five research centers in France bringing together several hundred engineers and researchers – even in basic sciences and mathematics – the Chinese group has a fairly significant presence in France. And tries to peel off the “Chinese government brand” image that clings to his skin. What the president of the subsidiary admits at first glance with rather disarming frankness: “ There is a lot of suspicion around us because we are going very fast. We would have subsidies from the Chinese government and be under the influence of the Chinese government. I can tell you that I am with Huawei (French Division, Editor’s Note) So I’ve been a shareholder in the company for 16 years and we’ve never received any money from China. And our accounts are audited by KPMG! “Weiliang Shi poses clearly.

In his sixties with a sparkling look, his right arm Minggang Zhang, Frenchman of Chinese descent and veteran of the telecom industry – Alcatel-Lucent, Nokia, etc. – explain that ” this distrust has made us more virtuous. We have all ANSSI certifications and we now have a center in Brussels where all partner companies and administrations can come and check the source code of our products. “. So what about these core network and equipment bans?” The reality is that we are not at the heart of the network in France. And that the French moratorium banning certain Huawei equipment in France only covers so-called sensitive sites, such as military areas, and not the rest of the territory continues Mr. Zhang (pronounced Chiang). And in the rest of the territory, yes business as usual for Huawei, which continues to earn points with equipment that is more technologically advanced than the competition. Like these super antennas that combine 4G and 5G transparenta feat so unique that we were forbidden to take pictures!

Huawei network equipment

Huawei remains one of the champions of advanced networking equipment. © Adrian BRANCO / 01net.com

As for Huawei’s pariah role in France, it seems, like writer Mark Twain’s death, “very exaggerated”. Last December, Orange set a world record for data transmission speed over fiber in collaboration with the company. In France, the Chinese company is signing vengeful contracts with Orange, Bouygues, SFR, SPIE, Stellantis, Nexans, System U, etc. Especially since the 5G business is growing exponentially and Huawei is the champion in the segment. But not only: between the cloud or storage, the company continues its conquests.
How about spying on data, you say? Even this is not a taboo subject for the two Huawei experts, always aware of the Chinese “doubt”. They respond immediately We do not process the data! We sell the equipment to our customers and partners, such as Orange, which operates our cloud solutions in France. And then we return the keys. In addition, we are one of the only companies in the world to offer the implementation of a cloud that is delivered ready-to-use on site (they say ” on premise in the jargon, editor’s note). Part of this success is obviously based on the technological qualities of Chinese products. The other reason comes from a simple element: Huawei has not suffered and does not seem to suffer from a shortage of equipment and delivery on time, a quality the company has acquired through pain.

Resilient and prepared, IBM as a model

The huge stand of Huawei was once again the largest of the entire Mobile World Congress this year!  © Adrian BRANCO / 01net.com

The huge stand of Huawei was once again the largest of the entire Mobile World Congress this year! © Adrian BRANCO / 01net.com

Huawei’s current success, in networking, storage, cloud and energy, is largely due to past hardships. If the company was indeed devoid of chips for smartphones, then in other areas it was not hit like the others by the shortages related to the pandemic. This allowed him to deliver when his competitors had nothing in stock. ” We will be 95% on time for our quarterly deliveries by 2022, with up to 92% of products delivered in just one month “, Mr. Shi welcomes. It owes this achievement to its nemesis: the US government.

Read also: Huawei: injured, the Chinese juggernaut could get even stronger (May 2019)​

If we have not suffered and still suffer from the shortage of parts, it is because we can thank the United States for the various blockades. Past embargoes and lockdowns have taught us the importance of supply chains, doubling or even tripling suppliers and inventories. Since we had experienced these issues before the pandemic, we were better prepared when it arrived. And to this day, we are still winning a lot of contracts thanks to our inventories and our ability to deliver. says Mr. Shi.

Huawei standard MWC2023

It’s the history of IBM’s shift from the general public to the professional world that partially inspired Huawei’s shift. © Adrian BRANCO / 01net.com

Graciously enough, both men attribute part of that success to one example. That of the American IBM. After celebrating Apple for “the vision” or even Samsung, it is finally IBM that is cited as a model. ” They are the first to make the right shift to B2B (business customers, editor’s note) or the cloud. They were the first to theorize business continuity management plans (B.C.M.), the best vision of the future », confirm with respect our two interlocutors. Before weighing that” if they have the best vision, the execution of the plans is not at the same level However, Huawei, which seems to take inspiration from the best, does not have this concern for speed and quality of execution. The Chinese company seizes every challenge and blockade to expand its business – devoid of an advanced chip, the company starts already developing EUV combustion technologies! Donald Trump and the United States seem to have pushed Huawei back only to make it jump better.

If you stop buying smartphones from the brand, you will still surf thanks to its antennas, its fiber, its network centers, its data centers. And you may soon be charging your electric car (with Huawei network chips) with solar energy controlled by Huawei inverters. Time for the death of Huawei so often announced with fanfare!