Huawei founder urges shift to software to survive US sanctions

Ren Zhengfei, Founder and President of Huawei Technologies

Huawei founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei has called for a strategic shift towards software development, as the vendor reveals plans to launch a smartphone version of its HarmonyOS in early June.

In a memo viewed by Mobile World Live (MWL), he urged the company to become a leader in software, citing current efforts to develop systems around its HarmonyOS, Huawei Mobile Services (HMS) and Mindspore platforms in the IT domain.

Ren noted Huawei must expand its efforts to make the platforms thrive, noting the “US will have very little control over our future development, and we have much autonomy”.

The move requires first building a diversified software team, he said.

US restrictions prevent Huawei using Google’s Android operating system in its smartphones.

A source close to Huawei told MWL the smartphone OS will be introduced on 2 June.

Any shift away from hardware would likely take years to have a material impact on Huawei’s top-line: its Consumer Group (devices) accounted for 54 per cent of total revenue in 2020 compared with 34 per cent from its carrier networks business.

US sanctions have severely hindered Huawei’s smartphone business, and Ren previously stated he expected no change under President Joe Biden.

Huawei is also developing components for the automotive industry, potentially a bid to gain ground in a sector unaffected by US action.


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