At the beginning of the smartphone age, Chinese smartphones have developed a bad reputation with consumers for being faulty and cheaply made. But in recent years, one Chinese company has flipped the script to not only have its smartphones beloved by the global community but to become the world’s second-largest phone manufacturer.
This company is none other than Huawei, the Chinese behemoth that has built a strong brand affiliation thanks to its smartphones’ snappy high-end specs as well as the impressive quality of its mid-range and budget devices. As one of the biggest and most successful phone brands to come out of China, Huawei definitely amped the game by changing the public’s perception of Chinese smartphones.
But other than its big name, how much do we actually know about Huawei? Here we compile 8 interesting trivia to know about the Chinese brand, from its many successes to its recent controversies.
The name Huawei translates into “Chinese achievement”.
In Mandarin Chinese, the symbol Hua (华) literally translates to mean “flower”, but now it’s also used to mean China. On the other hand, Wei (为) translates to mean “action” or “achievement”. Bringing the two symbols together, Huawei roughly translates into “Chinese achievement”, embodying the company’s incredible feat of starting out from a small fishing village into a billion-dollar enterprise.
The alternate meaning of Hua that also means “flower” is clearly shown in Huawei’s logo, a bright red flower with its petals spread wide, to symbolize the brand’s commitment to growth and harmony in their quest for innovation.
Huawei founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei founded the company as a midlife endeavor.
If you ever find yourself experiencing a midlife crisis or a desire for a career shift, consider looking into Huawei’s founder for inspiration. Before starting Huawei, Ren Zhengfei worked as a military technician for the Chinese People’s Liberation Army where he received experience with automation and manufacturing technology.
In 1987 at age 42, Ren founded Huawei in Shenzhen, Guangdong. Huawei started out as a reseller of Hong Kong-based network systems, while simultaneously reverse-engineering the imported systems and manufacturing technologies of its own. Huawei has since branched out to telecommunications, smartphones, and Internet-of-Things (IoT) technology, with Ren still serving as CEO, now at 75.
Founder Ren Zhengfei only owns a 1.14% share, while Huawei employees hold the other 98.86%.
Aside from being a privately held company, Huawei prides itself on being entirely owned by its employees. Despite its impressive growth, Huawei is not publicly listed on any stock market nor affiliated with any 3rd party entity. And it seems that won’t be changing any time soon.
Through Huawei’s Employee Stock Ownership Program which was established since the very beginning, only those who work for the company get a share of the company. Huawei founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei is the largest shareholder, but he only has a small 1.14% stake in the company. The other 98.86% is shared by 96,768 shareholding employees as of 2018.
Through this program and ownership scheme, Huawei shows how it values its employees, as it incentivizes loyal workers and attracts new talent to work for the company.
Huawei once rotated its CEO every six months to keep its governance fresh.
In 2012, Huawei introduced a highly unorthodox leadership system of having a rotating panel of executives split the role of CEO with Ren Zhengfei every six months. As Huawei explained, the new system is meant to help the company adapt to a rapidly changing market by keeping the company nimble and on its feet.
The three executives — Guo Ping, Eric Xu, and Ken Hu — all came to bring their expertise from different parts of the company, from R&D, wireless, and marketing. Their normal functions do not change while acting as CEO, but they are simply given the additional power of handling operations and crisis management, as well as leading Huawei’s board of directors.
In 2018, the rotating CEO system was changed into a rotating chairman system, so that Ren Zhengfei is the sole CEO while Guo, Xu, and Hu rotate in co-leading Huawei’s board of directors.
Huawei is a massive player in 5G technology.
In the 5G networking race, there are only a few standout names that are truly leading the pack, and Huawei is by and large the leading company from the list.
As a powerful telecommunications company and smartphone brand, Huawei has the definite means to capture a major chunk of 5G network consumers, especially if it continues to spearhead the innovations on all fronts. Currently, Huawei has the most number of 5G patents, has the most number of 5G commercial contracts, and has the most robust 5G portfolio out of all tech companies.
In fact, Huawei’s 5G network has already been used to perform the world’s first remote brain surgery. Huawei’s technology powered up a robot that operated on a Parkinson’s patient, controlled by a doctor 3,000 kilometers away. The 5G network solved problems like video lags and delays to ensure an almost real-time operation.
Huawei dedicates 40% of its employees to R&D.
Huawei couldn’t have accomplished all of its innovations without a strong research and development unit. Funneling back almost 15% of its revenue back to research, Huawei is one of the largest companies (2nd worldwide) in terms of the percentage of revenue invested in R&D. What’s more amazing is that nearly half of its total workforce is part of its massive yet collaborative R&D team. That’s around 87,000 employees from a workforce of 194,000 as of 2019. Talk about teamwork.
All that investment definitely pays off. Aside from being to roll out the best specs for its devices at top-notch speeds, Huawei also holds a lot of patents for its pioneering technologies, primarily on 5G networking. Huawei holds the most Chinese patents worldwide and falls in the top 10 of the most number of granted US patents in 2019, even with the recent US-China conflicts.
Huawei is the world’s top manufacturer of telecom equipment.
You may know Huawei as a big name in the smartphone market in recent years, but it has been working in the background for much longer as a manufacturer of telecommunications equipment.
Huawei has dominated that market since 2012 when it overtook the Swedish brand Ericsson as the world’s top manufacturer. Approximately 80% of the top 50 telecom companies have partnered with Huawei, including even the Philippines’ Globe Telecom and PLDT.
Huawei remains as the world’s second-largest phone manufacturer, despite US controversy.
In 2019, Huawei became a buzzing name in the media, not because of any particular release or accomplishment, but because of its longstanding and public feud with the US government.
Huawei has been gravely accused by Washington to be controlled by the Chinese government and that its devices and 5G network could possibly be used for government espionage. Despite Huawei’s efforts of correcting the allegations, the US government has imposed a ban on US companies from transacting with Huawei and many other Chinese companies.
But while 2019 was a rocky road for the brand in terms of legal matters, it was a monumental year for Huawei because it finally overtook Apple to become the world’s second-largest phone manufacturer, behind only Samsung. With 18% of the market share in Q3 of 2019, Huawei is well within the range to grab that first spot from Samsung. This unfazed success despite the US controversy only proves that Huawei operates on a global scale and makes great numbers even with the absence of the US market.
What other interesting facts about Huawei did we forget on our list? Let us know in the comments below.