Huawei says its “back on track” after its revenue neared $100 billion for this year, despite continuing US sanctions on the Chinese conglomerate.
Sales to surged to more than 700 billion yuan ($98.7 billion) in 2023, the company said on Friday, which represents 9% growth from the $642 billion yuan ($92.4 billion) reported from 2022. That’s off the back of what Huawei says is its “solid” ICT infrastructure business as well as better-than-expected performance from its devices business, which includes smartphones.
Huawei’s latest earnings comes as the Chinese company continues to grapple with years-long US sanctions, which are aimed at restricting its access to American technology, particularly cutting-edge chips. This August, Huawei released its first 5G smartphone, representing a chipmaking breakthrough for Beijing, which has previously relied on US components for such devices.
“After years of hard work, we’ve managed to weather the storm. And now we’re pretty much back on track,” said Ken Hu, one Huawei’s rotating chairmen in end-of-year message to staff. “We have to be aware that changes in the business environment are not caused by geopolitical conflict alone, but also by fluctuating global economic cycles.”
Huawei’s smartphone performance
Huawei said on Friday that its device business surpassed expectations for 2023. It plans to “double down” on efforts in this business for 2024.
In August, Huawei announced the Mate 60 Pro smartphone, which was powered by a made-in-China chip that sanctions were designed to prevent. The handset shocked industry experts who were perplexed by how Huawei could produce an advanced smartphone complete with 5G support without key American components. However, it also indicated that Huawei had reached a new degree of self-sufficiency that China seemingly never had before.
The Mate 60 Pro helped Huawei climb back to the top of Chinese mobile brands and reclaim market share form the likes of the iPhone. According to Counterpoint Research, Huawei snatched back marketshare in 2023, growing from 10% in the first quarter to 14% in the third quarter. By comparison, Apple’s marketshare in China dropped from 20% to 15% during the same period.
However, in December, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said Washington will take the “strongest possible” action to protect its national security in response to China’s chipmaking breakthrough as indicated by the 5G chip in the Mate 60 Pro.
“Hard work has enabled us to survive and grow, but we still have serious challenges ahead of us.” Hu went on to say in his year-end message. “Geopolitical and economic uncertainties abound, while technology restrictions and trade barriers continue to have an impact on the world”
Huawei was once among the top smartphone companies in the world, rivaling Apple and Samsung. However, phone sales fell dramatically since the Trump administration imposed a series of sanctions on the Chinese telecom giant beginning in 2019, in an effort to curtail its dominance. In 2020, Washington cut off Huawei’s global chip supply in a broadened round of sanctions that effectively banned global companies that use American technology or equipment from doing business with Huawei.
For several months after, Huawei had been relegated to producing mostly 4G phones or relying on a limited supply of stockpiled 5G chips. Prior to the Mate 60, the last 5G chipset Huawei developed in-house was the Kirin 9000 5G, which powered 2020’s Mate 40 Pro.