I’ve already written about why Samsung’s MWC presence felt so underwhelming this year. It seems that the Mobile World Congress isn’t quite the priority that it was once was for the company. So while Samsung may be moving on to focus its energies elsewhere, Huawei turned out to be the biggest surprise for me at MWC 2023.
Huawei has had to battle a lot of negative press over the past few years, particularly in the aftermath of its troubles with the Trump administration. Just as it was at the cusp of breaking into the US market with its smartphones, the government dropped the banhammer and effectively banished Huawei from the lucrative market. It went one step further and leaned on its allies across the globe to stop using Huawei network equipment, leading to billions in losses for the company.
The administration also cut the company off from US technology. So while Huawei had relied on Android to quickly grow its footprint in the smartphone market, it was no longer able to put Android on its phones. Huawei had to adapt and launch its own operating system while also navigating the endless challenges it faces to secure parts, components, chipsets, and other technologies. The sanctions that were placed on Huawei were effectively a gift for Samsung.
All of this has had a significant impact on the company’s business. Huawei’s founder recently said that the company is in “survival mode” for the next three years. You’d think that a company in this position would be licking its wounds and playing it safe. That wasn’t the Huawei we saw at the Mobile World Congress 2023 in Barcelona. It almost seemed like Huawei had a point to prove and it did that spectacularly.
To say that Huawei’s MWC 2023 booth was massive would be an understatement. It covered almost half the entire hall and was easily 3 – 5x the size of Samsung’s booth. The company showcased everything from its phones, foldables included, to smartwatches, smart home devices, accessories, network equipment, and more. It even had an entire section dedicated to its homegrown OS and how it has expanded the app ecosystem in an effort to bridge the app gap for users.
Huawei utilized the MWC platform to showcase its vision for the future and perhaps to prove the most important point, that it’s far from dead. Reading about the company in recent years would have given many the impression that it’s on its way out. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Despite the considerable amount of challenges that it still faces, Huawei is making it clear that it’s here to stay, and that it’s going to fight back harder than every before.
In the past, we’ve seen Huawei’s booth being placed right next to Samsung’s at MWC. It was so massive this time around that it needed to be in a different hall. Huawei’s booth was also buzzing with activity throughout the entire show. There’s clearly a lot more interest now to see how Huawei plans to tackle the challenges it faces, and it’s putting on a brave face for now.
Does this mean that Samsung has any reason to worry? The company isn’t prone to size envy and even if it expected Huawei to go all out on its MWC 2023 booth, Samsung probably would have done what it still did. The political element behind Huawei’s struggles remains as well, and has even intensified in some respects, so Samsung just becomes the unintended beneficiary as the Chinese giant continues to be restrained by global forces.
It was worth mentioning, though, how Huawei refuses to give up and is willing to fight for its cause. We can just sit on the sidelines and see how it all plays out.