2011 Top Ten: Huawei Mini-Dramas

Never mind what Huawei actually sells. Here's how the company's mere existence came across in headlines

Craig Matsumoto, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

December 19, 2011

4 Min Read
2011 Top Ten: Huawei Mini-Dramas

Controversy seems to follow Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. everywhere. And in 2011, some of the stories got particularly heated as the mainstream press -- and the U.S. government -- started zeroing in on the company.

Here's our rankings of the top 10 Huawei plotlines of this past year.

10. Getting stopped in an LTE bid
We start with a familiar sight: Huawei getting shut out of a potential network buildout. (See US Blocks Huawei LTE Bid .)

9. Being called out by WikiLeaks
Huawei has built up bulk by serving third-world nations, but its customer satisfaction can leave much to be desired. At least, that was the case in Kenya in 2007, according to memos published by WikiLeaks early this year. (See WikiLeaks Cable Casts Dim Light on Huawei.) 8. Building a consumer name
Even if Huawei and ZTE Corp. (Shenzhen: 000063; Hong Kong: 0763) can't sell into North American Tier 1 networks, they've got plenty of other ways to spread their brands. In early February, we surveyed what each was doing in the handset market. (See Huawei, ZTE: Global Devices With Nice Prices.)

7. Selling things to Iran
It's an old question: Should technology companies be held accountable for providing technology to oppressive regimes? Many big technology companies can be hit with that question -- and Nokia Networks had its own Iran-related questions to answer -- but Huawei got singled out in November by a pressure group. Like NSN, Huawei soon changed its policy.

  • Huawei Limits Its Iran Ops

  • Should Huawei Do Business in Iran?

6. Trying to block Moto/NSN
The irony wasn't lost on readers: Here was Huawei, worried about losing control of its trade secrets. Huawei won an injunction against the sale of the Motorola Solutions Inc. (NYSE: MSI) wireless business to Nokia Siemens, but it all ended peacefully in April.

  • Huawei & Motorola End Trade Secrets Dispute

  • Court Finds for Huawei vs Moto

  • Huawei Wins Restraining Order Against Moto

  • NSN 'Has No Interest' in Huawei IPR

  • Huawei Sues to Block Moto Sale to NSN

5. Putting on a friendly U.S. face
You know something's up when Matt Bross's house leads off a Businessweek profile.

In May, Huawei began a hefty PR campaign to improve its U.S. image, including a combination anniversary and coming-out party in Santa Clara, Calif., its North American R&D headquarters. The message is that Huawei had been here for years, has been a good neighbor, and is developing reams of its own technology under R&D head John Roese, formerly of Nortel. Huawei wants to build a reputation as a technology innovator, with Silicon Valley as its U.S. nerve center.

  • Show & Tell: Huawei Turns 10

  • Huawei's Enterprise Vision Gets Cloudy

4. Sneaking into the U.K.
If you've gotta start somewhere, why not EE ? Heavy Reading analyst Patrick Donegan saw this May deal as a stepping stone for Huawei to get into bigger European networks. (See Huawei's Trojan Horse .)

3. Asking for a government inquiry
"We sincerely hope that the United States government will carry out a formal investigation on any concerns it may have about Huawei." That's what Ken Hu, chairman of Huawei USA and deputy chairman of all of Huawei, wrote in an open letter in February, after it was clear that Huawei wouldn't be allowed to acquire tiny 3Leaf Systems. As Light Reading's Phil Harvey pointed out, it takes some guts to ask the government to come investigate you.

  • Huawei's Open Letter to the US

  • Huawei's Rep Repair

2. Getting a government inquiry
Hu got his wish -- as did ZTE, if they were wishing for the same thing. This is the gift that will keep giving through 2012 and probably beyond. (See Huawei, ZTE Probed by Intelligence Agency.)

That's arguably the biggest thing that happened to Huawei all year. But in terms of what was, in the end, most important ... 1. 3Leaf
Yes, we're putting this stymied acquisition at No. 1. Does it sound small and inconsequential? That's what a lot of people thought when the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) started hinting that it wouldn't let Huawei keep its $2 million purchase. 3Leaf had to be unwound -- that is, erased from history: files shredded, disk drives destroyed. (See Huawei Sheds 3Leaf.)

This was the event that set into motion some of the other items on this list -- particularly Huawei's intensified marketing drive. As the trigger for what could be a pivotal period for Huawei, little 3Leaf gets the top spot on our list.

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

About the Author(s)

Craig Matsumoto

Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

Yes, THAT Craig Matsumoto – who used to be at Light Reading from 2002 until 2013 and then went away and did other stuff and now HE'S BACK! As Editor-in-Chief. Go Craig!!

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