Huawei Dwarfs Ericsson, Nokia on R&D Spend in 2017

Iain Morris
4/3/2018
0%
100%

Huawei’s recently published results for 2017 show the scale of the challenge for Ericsson and Nokia, with the Chinese vendor investing more than two and a half times as much in research and development (R&D) as each of its major Western rivals.

Having promised earlier this year to invest between $10 billion and $20 billion annually in R&D, Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. revealed at the end of March that R&D expenses rose to $13.8 billion in 2017 from about $11.8 billion the year before. (See Huawei Commits Up to $20B for Annual R&D, Fleshes Out AI Pitch.)

Despite broader cost cutting at Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), the Swedish kit vendor also made a sharp 18.4% increase to R&D spending last year, but this boosted the figure to just $4.5 billion, a mere fraction of the investments Huawei is making.

Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) spent the higher sum of $5.2 billion across its entire business after making a very slight reduction to R&D spending between 2016 and 2017.

Following several rounds of consolidation, and the emergence of the Chinese as a serious force in the telecom industry, the three giant equipment makers now dominate today’s global market for network products and services.

Yet each company faces its own challenges in early 2017 as well as a slump in customer spending: After several years of heavy investment in 4G and fiber-optic networks, some of the world’s biggest operators have recently been able to cut expenditure on network deployment.

Sales at Huawei’s carrier business group, which accounts for about half of its overall revenues, edged up just 2.5% in 2017, to around 298 billion Chinese yuan ($47.4 billion), after growing nearly 24% in 2016.

Thanks to a much stronger performance at its enterprise and device-selling consumer business, Huawei was able to report a 16% rise in overall sales, to about RMB604 billion ($96 billion), while its net profit was up 28%, to roughly RMB47 billion ($7.5 billion).

But the company’s non-carrier business appears to be under growing threat from protectionist measures in the US, where government authorities say they are worried that equipment from Chinese companies like Huawei and ZTE poses a risk to national security.

Major US operators have already been warned off buying gear and services from the Chinese vendors. Earlier this year, a smartphone deal between AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Huawei fell apart under pressure from US authorities, according to mainstream press reports. Best Buy, Huawei’s biggest retail outlet in the US, is now planning to stop selling phones and other devices from the Chinese vendor, say reports. (See Best Buy to Drop Huawei in Another Blow to US Ambitions – Report.)

That move comes after President Donald Trump unveiled plans to impose tariffs on Chinese imports worth about $60 billion each year. (See Trade Warmonger Trump May Slap Tariffs on Chinese Tech – Reuters.)

The US concerns stem partly from fear that China is now poised to race ahead of the US in technology areas like 5G and artificial intelligence (AI), both of which could become integral to products and services across numerous industries.

Huawei has indicated that it will spend about $800 million this year on 5G, a next-generation mobile technology that promises faster connection speeds and reduced “latency,” the delay that occurs when sending signals over data networks. (See Huawei's $800M 5G Budget Piles Pressure on Ericsson, Nokia.)

It is also ramping up investments in AI. The Chinese vendor is due to unveil an AI-enabled compute platform called Atlas this year and has also developed a system called Wireless Intelligence for automating processes in 5G radio networks.

“Over the next 10 years, Huawei will continue to increase investment in technological innovation, investing more than $10 billion back into R&D every year,” said Ken Hu, Huawei’s rotating chairman, in a statement accompanying the recent results. “As we look to 2018, emerging technologies like the Internet of Things, cloud computing, artificial intelligence and 5G will soon see large-scale application.”

Next page: 5G hopes

(12)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
<<   <   Page 2 / 2
Gabriel Brown
100%
0%
Gabriel Brown,
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/3/2018 | 12:57:11 PM
Re: The solution
Worth noting that Huawei R&D is spread across many more areas... HiSilicon, for example, is a full-on semiconductor play that must surely consume vast R&D investment. Ericsson got out of silicon years ago. And then there's the rest of Huawei's expansion plans: devices, enterprise, cloud. Nokia got out of devices, etc.

So I agree they are not directly comparable companies.
mendyk
100%
0%
mendyk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/3/2018 | 10:37:11 AM
The solution
Western incumbents could use a mulligan. There's little chance that they can climb out of the legacy hole and compete meaningfully with a company that has very little baggage from the past. It's unfair and pointless to compare these companies as though they are on the same footing.
<<   <   Page 2 / 2
Featured Video
From The Founder
John Chambers is still as passionate about business and innovation as he ever was at Cisco, finds Steve Saunders.
Flash Poll
Upcoming Live Events
September 12, 2018, Los Angeles, CA
September 24-26, 2018, Westin Westminster, Denver
October 9, 2018, The Westin Times Square, New York
October 23, 2018, Georgia World Congress Centre, Atlanta, GA
November 6, 2018, London, United Kingdom
November 7-8, 2018, London, United Kingdom
November 8, 2018, The Montcalm by Marble Arch, London
November 15, 2018, The Westin Times Square, New York
December 4-6, 2018, Lisbon, Portugal
All Upcoming Live Events
Hot Topics
T-Mobile to Play the Customer Care Card With Layer3 TV
Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading, 8/15/2018
Australia Could Open 5G Door to Huawei
Robert Clark, 8/16/2018
Video Navigation Gets an AI Assist
Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading, 8/16/2018
Eurobites: Deutsche Telekom Pulls Out of Iran
Iain Morris, International Editor, 8/17/2018
Animals with Phones
When Your Cat Hijacks Your Tech Click Here
Latest Comment
Live Digital Audio

A CSP's digital transformation involves so much more than technology. Crucial – and often most challenging – is the cultural transformation that goes along with it. As Sigma's Chief Technology Officer, Catherine Michel has extensive experience with technology as she leads the company's entire product portfolio and strategy. But she's also no stranger to merging technology and culture, having taken a company — Tribold — from inception to acquisition (by Sigma in 2013), and she continues to advise service providers on how to drive their own transformations. This impressive female leader and vocal advocate for other women in the industry will join Women in Comms for a live radio show to discuss all things digital transformation, including the cultural transformation that goes along with it.

Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed