Huawei is the second biggest phone manufacturer in the world (bigger than Apple). It has grown rapidly and continuously for a decade. It made huge strides in mobile camera technology and forced others to do so. It is accelerating the industry towards consumer facing bendable screen technology.
Huawei is a significant global brand when it comes to pushing innovation and forcing brands to compete to improve technology.
This backdrop is important to understand the shockwaves of the Huawei saga; for politics, for industry and for consumers.
When politics and consumer-facing brands become embroiled, it can be difficult as a consumer to understand where you stand. Not only do you have to make a decision politically, but you also have to understand your relationship with a brand, consciously, and whether that relationship will change, or should change.
At the moment, countries and businesses on a global level are trying to decipher the cause for such aggressive sanctions from the US. Is it justified: is Huawei a gate-keeper for state snooping from Beijing? Or is it scapegoating: is the US using Huawei as a trade war pawn while also trying to give Apple a bit of a leg-up in an increasingly competitive market.
It’s a complicated quandary and both sides of the argument are standing firm, whilst crying “foul”. But let’s put ourselves in the shoes of the consumer, for now. Because yes, it is a complicated story to follow. What about my security when using Huawei technology? What about the access I have to platforms and apps? Will my phone still be Android? What about the functionality of my tablet? Should I continue to endorse them as a brand? And at the end of the day, can I trust them?
There are some answers to these questions, for example all current mobile devices will continue to be Android and receive security updates and access to Play Store. Plus the 3-month lift of the ban gives Huawei an opportunity to enter negotiations with the US government and future plan with companies such as Google.
But some questions are harder to answer; is consumer trust damaged? And if it is, how deep does that damage go, and is trust revivable?
For now at least Huawei seem to be putting on a confident, defiant face. To quote the founder Ren Zhengfei, “If the lights go out in the West, the East will still shine”. Trust in the East it seems will take more to shake.