Huawei Technologies, the world’s largest supplier of telecommunications gear, has shipped more smartphones than ever before, announcing at the end of December that its 2018 shipments exceeded 200 million devices, despite a Trump administration crackdown and increasing scrutiny from other national governments.
Huawei is China’s largest privately held company and the world’s second biggest smartphone maker. The company said that its phone shipments increased more than 30% from 2017. Huawei said in a statement, “In the global smartphone market, Huawei has gone from being dismissed as a statistical ‘other’ to ranking among the Top 3 players in the world.”
In 2018, Samsung ranked as the number one smartphone manufacturer in the world, and Huawei topped Apple in the number of smartphone units shipped, to take the number two position. According to research firm IDC, and based on data from November 2018, Huawei has 14% of the global smartphone market, behind Samsung’s 20%. Apple is in third place with 13% market share.
The announcement of Huawei’ record-setting phone sales comes amid the increased tensions between the company and the US government and its allies. Huawei’s chief financial officer, Sabrina Meng Wanzhou, was arrested in Canada on December 1, 2018 at the request of the US government. The US alleges that Meng committing fraud to evade sanctions on Iran. Beijing has pushed for her release and suggested that her arrest was part of a US effort to gain an advantage in its ongoing trade battles with China.
Several US allies have already followed the Trump administration in banning the use of Huawei devices in government networks. Intelligence agencies believe that many of Huawei’s servers and network devices contain backdoors that allow Chinese intelligence to spy on or disrupt corporations, foreign governments and military agencies.
Australia, Britain and New Zealand have joined the US in blocking Huawei from their next-generation 5G mobile network and other countries, including Belgium, Canada, France and Germany are considering similar bans. Japan has also effectively banned Huawei and another Chinese tech provider, ZTE, from government contracts to prevent potential leaks of sensitive data.
Huawei and the Chinese government have cast the blacklisting as politically motivated and denied wrongdoing. Huawei has challenged the intelligence agency of any country to prove its allegations of backdoors and has said that it is open to sharing all of its technology secrets with governments in order to prove its innocence.
Huawei has posted significant growth even as the aforementioned governments have moved against it. The company said its record-breaking shipments were largely fuelled by the demand for its P20, Honor 10 and Mate 20 smartphones. The company’s analysts believe it is possible for the company to become the number one smartphone manufacturer in the world by the end of 2019, based upon strong sales in Europe and other markets.