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Huawei struggles with guidance after latest US ban

Huawei offered an incomplete Q1 picture and declined to give revenue guidance as it reels from the COVID-19 crisis and new US restrictions.

Robert Clark

May 19, 2020

2 Min Read
Huawei struggles with guidance after latest US ban

Huawei's annual analyst day has come and gone and for once we're left not much the wiser about the industry's most headline-worthy company.

That is for reasons mostly beyond Huawei's control, like the COVID-19 restrictions that kept most people away.

It's also because of the US Commerce Department's decision on Friday to block Huawei from buying chips made with US technology.

Current rotating CEO Guo Ping said Huawei is still understanding the impact and, in a departure from previous years, wouldn't give any revenue guidance.

In another departure, he wouldn't give a picture of Huawei's Q1 performance either.

We did learn that the biggest business group, the consumer unit, suffered a 17% fall in smartphone shipments in Q1 - but that's about par for that quarter from hell.

We were also left wondering about the progress of the critically important HMS, Huawei's substitute for the Google service suite.

But we do know Huawei is off to a fast start in 5G, shipping 15 million units in the last two quarters and grabbing 33% of the global market and a dominant 55% at home. It also reported a jump in sales of other devices – PC shipments are up 120%, wearables 60% and routers 70%.

That's about it for the hard data.

Having little else to share, the CEO returned to some of Huawei's favorite themes, throwing shade on some critics along the way.

Asked about the world cleaving into rival technology blocs, he stressed the value of global standards, stating that US vendors had lost their "competitiveness and leadership" after the industry had adopted TDMA for 2G.

"Today Huawei has no competitor coming from the US," Guo said, in case anyone had forgotten. "This is the lesson that we can learn from the US."

He contrasted China's fast broadband with its not-so-fast counterparts in Europe.

When China went into lockdown in late January the government had ordered streaming providers to provide three months' free service. But when European countries started closing down, the EU's first act was to ask Netflix to dial back HD video to SD.

"Why was China able to cope with it but others had to reduce the quality of their services?" Guo wondered.

He said he didn't know why the US was "continuously attacking Huawei," despite the company's contribution to the ICT industry.

But having read some speeches from US politicians, he concluded the US believed its technological leadership was the foundation of its world dominance.

"Any country or company with more advanced technologies may put the US supremacy at risk. Unfortunately, Huawei is taking the lead in the ICT sector which is also growing very fast."

— Robert Clark, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

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About the Author(s)

Robert Clark

Contributing Editor, Special to Light Reading

Robert Clark is an independent technology editor and researcher based in Hong Kong. In addition to contributing to Light Reading, he also has his own blog,  Electric Speech (http://www.electricspeech.com). 

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