Huawei is not even safe in China. Its cell phones, which for years have been the absolute dominators of the Chinese market, have come to occupy a secondary role.
It might seem that the US veto would not affect its business in its country of origin, but the truth is that the problem there is not being unable to access Google’s services and applications, but rather not being able to access the chips they need for the development of their mobiles, which come from US companies.
This time last year Huawei was still boasting a privileged position in the mobile market in China. It was selling far more than its competitors, but from that point on things started to go wrong.
Canalys data reveal how in the last three quarters the drop in Huawei’s mobile sales in China has been spectacular. So much so that Vivo and Oppo, which until now had been far apart, have ended up overtaking it. Xiaomi is about to do so, and even Apple has come within a stone’s throw of embarrassing Huawei even more.
Its share has gone from 41% last year to 16% according to these latest data, while Vivo and Oppo grew by 79% and 65% respectively.
In many Western countries – Spain is a good example – Huawei’s fundamental problem has been not being able to count on Google’s services and apps, but in China that’s not so relevant: there are dozens of third-party app stores there, and Huawei’s App Gallery gives an alternative just as good as the others.
The dependence is not so much on the software side as on the hardware side: the veto imposed by Donald Trump (and now maintained by Joe Biden’s administration) has meant that the company cannot easily access certain chips and designs it needs to stay competitive.
That second graph shows how the drop internationally is truly spectacular, but what’s more surprising is that they don’t even seem to save the paperwork in China. If things continue like this, the company could be faced with some very difficult decisions about what to do with a mobile division that is bleeding to death.