Huawei battles for European market share at key trade fair
At the world’s largest mobile phone trade fair this week in Spain, only one major mobile phone maker chose to attend in person: China’s Huawei, whose business has been weakened by sanctions imposed by the United States who see him as a spy threat.
Samsung, the world’s largest smartphone maker, Nokia and other major telecommunications companies withdrew from the four-day Mobile World Congress (MWC) which kicked off in Barcelona on Monday, citing virus concerns, though some are participating virtually .
But with its business under pressure from US sanctions, Huawei is eager to fight for its share of the lucrative European market for smartphones and 5G wireless networking equipment and could not afford to stay away from the event. , analysts said.
“If they didn’t show up, it would basically be them who would say ‘we are done, we are not able to compete in this industry because of the sanctions,” Ryan Reith, senior researcher at AFP, told AFP. IDC.
Huawei had one of the largest and brightest booths at the convention, displaying its line of smartphones, smartwatches and other devices under one huge banner with the slogan “Lighting Up the Future”.
The United States in 2019 put Huawei on a commercial blacklist that bars U.S. suppliers from doing business with it because of what Washington says are national security concerns.
The move cut Huawei off from Google’s Android mobile operating system, preventing it from offering popular features like Google’s browser and a range of other top apps only available through Android.
As a result, Huawei – once one of the world’s top three smartphone makers along with Samsung and Apple – has seen its phone sales plummet.
The company was the sixth-largest smartphone maker in the fourth quarter of 2020, the first time it was not in the top five in six years, according to research firm Canalys. Huawei sold its budget-branded Honor smartphone unit in November as it reshuffled its product line in the face of declining sales, but pledged to keep its premium phone brand.
Europe is a “key market” for the company as it was able to sell its higher margin premium phones there, Reith said, adding that this also helps explain why Huawei was at MWC.
“Outside of China, it was Huawei’s most important region for the past few years, I would say at least six, seven years,” he said.
Forrester analyst Thomas Husson agrees, saying “Huawei’s physical presence highlights the importance of Europe” in the company’s strategy.
The company is also keen to promote its recently launched local operating system – HarmonyOS – which aims to compete with Android and Apple’s iOs that dominate the market, he added.
Huawei, the world’s largest provider of telecommunications networking equipment, also wants phone carriers to use its equipment to build lightning-fast 5G wireless networks. Under pressure from Washington, Western countries such as Britain and Australia have banned mobile phone providers from using the company’s equipment in 5G networks.
Other countries like France have imposed heavy restrictions on the use of Huawei equipment.
Yesterday, speaking at the rally, Huawei business transportation company chairman Ryan Ding highlighted innovations in its 5G network equipment that make installation easier and reduce power consumption. energy. “5G innovation is an ongoing process and it’s just the start,” he said.
Sascha Segan, chief mobile analyst for US tech magazine PCMag, said it was “extremely important” for Huawei to network with “as many international operators as possible” at the fair.
“If they can convince an operator to stick with Huawei infrastructure equipment, it will have been worth attending the show,” he added.