Smartphones are big business, not just in the United States, but all over the world. Huawei has sold more smartphones than Apple. It’s the second-largest cell phone manufacturing company on the planet, right behind Samsung, and it shows no signs of slowing down.
With almost one hundred and ten billion dollars in annual sales. Huawei has come a long way from the less than six thousand dollar investment that former Chinese military man Ren Zhengfei started out with, in 1987. Headquartered in Shenzhen, China, the company has had a relatively short history but one that has been full of massive expansion and monumental controversy.
The name Huawei translates to “China doing”, and that’s an apt name for a company that has grown beyond imagination in the years since its founding. Huawei has become a global leader in smartphone technology and manufacturing. It’s a name that rose to prominence not only through its massive infrastructure but also through its hard-fought trade policies that have been created by the Chinese government to support Chinese businesses like Huawei.
Zhengfei began his business as one that would reverse engineer American smartphone technology and then manufacture it in China. Phone switches were the first parts to roll off the line, and their success is what sparked the company to continue to expand.
The company built its early business on small contracts with the People’s Liberation Army of China. These contracts that led to bigger contracts and incredibly lucrative business dealings that brought it’s corporate ties closer and closer to the Chinese government. The relationship of Huawei with the Chinese government has been instrumental to its growth.
To continue to grow its business, it was always essential that Huawei expands beyond China. That international expansion began with Hong Kong and then flowed out to other countries, including Norway, the UK, Australia, the United States and more. Huawei created a global training center in Malaysia and has services in more than one hundred and seventy countries around the world.
Cybersecurity issues became a hot button issue for Huawei, with concerns that the company’s close ties with the Chinese government might be facilitating espionage in its foreign partnerships. This concern has dominated the conversations surrounding Huawei, slowing its international business growth and forcing the company to stop some of its expansion. The United States specifically targeted Huawei and ZTE equipment in federal legislation that restricted both companies. Huawei has been caught in the escalating trade war between the United States and China, however, the long term ramifications of those trade war escalations have yet to be totally meted out.
The company has also been subject to numerous censures by governments around the world surrounding issues with intellectual property.
Eyes on the Future
Despite international trade restrictions, Huawei continues to expand its presence globally. Four out of five international telecom companies have worked with Huawei on telecommunications infrastructure, hardware, and software. Though the company’s 5G expansion has been bumpy, it’s leadership towards faster telecommunications speed has changed the trajectory of the marketplace around the world.
Huawei has always been an employee-owned company, and even in the face of controversy, it is a force in global telecommunications.