Just two weeks ago, I attended a media dinner with Huawei in the company of many others of Sydney’s respected technology journalists. Smiles left and right, pleasant company and a nice dinner, even some time for a play with the newly announced Huawei Mate Xs.

There was no sign – from this dinner alone, at least – that things behind the scenes were about to experience a significant upheaval. In fact, Huawei Australia was in the process of dissolving its independent board of directors completely.

Independent chairman John Lord – a former Australian Navy officer – departed his role at the end of February, as did the remainder of the independent board. At present, just two executives remain:

The move comes as little surprise to most watching Huawei in Australia – over the last decade, it has been precluded from involvement in the National Broadband Network build, denied participation in future 5G networks, and if that blow to its enterprise aspirations weren’t enough, its consumer business has been cut off at the knees by the US trade ban which has all but rendered Huawei’s smartphones impossible to sell outside China. Few, it seems, are willing to spend top-flight smartphone dollars on a phone that can’t integrate with ever-essential services offered by Google.

Over the last couple of years, Huawei’s once proud – and sizable – Australian workforce has shrunk from around 1,000 locally engaged staff to under 500. Information Age (published by the ACS) noted that:

In December, Huawei warned its network of 50 local suppliers that the company’s work pipeline would dry out by the end of 2020 – causing up to 1,500 local jobs to be lost – unless the Australian government reversed its 5G ban.

With that ban not reversed, with the NBN build all but finished without Huawei’s involvement, and with Huawei’s consumer products not especially appealing to an Australian audience, there appears to be little reason for the company to invest anything much further into the Australian market.

I suspect that the ship has now sailed, and even if the government were to reverse the ban on Huawei 5G products being used in Australia, carriers may have little appetite to use products from the vendor given its other woes.

Huawei Australia has operated as part of the group’s Western Europe region for some time, but with the departure of local management and directors, that integration into the WEU region will become more pronounced.

Through a combination of Australia’s bans on Huawei products, and the US government neutering the consumer business, the once bright star of Huawei is all but extinguished in Australia, at least for now. After so many great products – including the super successful Mate 20 and P30 series – it’s a shame to see a great innovator fade almost as quickly as it rose to prominence.

 

 

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JeniSkunk
JeniSkunk
6 months ago

What’s interesting in this article is not that the bulk of its board was sacked.
What is interesting is that it was only the INDEPENDENT board that was sacked. The article fails to describe who that part of the board was independent from, and how were they independent.
And more seriously, the article fails to look at who now controls what’s left of the board and how.

Sam
Sam
6 months ago

We all ultimately fail as we continue to support 2g and 3g technology. Australia is not expected to enjoy any of the best in technology at any time soon.

chris
chris
Reply to  Sam
6 months ago

Please explain. 2g is turned off. 3g is there but for extra coverage, most of Australia is on 4g and 5g is now available.
Please tell me what we are missing out on ?

Alex
Alex
6 months ago

Not too bad a news for huawei but a bad news for Australian people as their government just threw their technology future away

Damien Cox
Damien Cox
6 months ago

Happy to see them fail. Stealing foreign technology, getting an unfair leg-up through state funding and dubious government controls makes for bad, untrustworthy business.

James
James
Reply to  Damien Cox
6 months ago

Standard lines from a population feed by anti Chinese and Huawei campaigns. Any highly successful Chinese companies, especially ones leading industry are always viewed with suspicion and fear. That’s the shadow ideological government and media like to cast on Chinese companies. I don’t see sue-crazy American companies or any other companies sueing Huawei left right and centre for patent infringements. A Chinese technology company getting support from it’s government? Wow bad. If only Australian and American governments could support technology industries. Huawei is a success because they played their cards right and know how run a business. The tactics of… Read more »

James
James
Reply to  James
6 months ago

We’re beginning to see a similar campaign against another successful Chinese company. DJI. It’s only a matter of time before we start getting stories about DJI drones spying for Chinese Communist Party, stealing intellectual property, controlled by Chinese government etc etc.

Mr Au
Mr Au
Reply to  Damien Cox
6 months ago

Why she government funding make it unfair? What’s stopping any government anywhere to fund whatever they please?

James
James
6 months ago

It’s a shame. The only people who are pushing back against Huawei with fear and smear are ideological governments and certain sections of the media. You don’t see the tech giants like Google, Microsoft, Apple, HP etc and the telecommunications sectors jumping up and down about Huawei. Just ideological government and media. When the USA can’t compete in a free market they resort to sabotage and propaganda campaigns and Australian just follows along like a lap dog. Consumers are worst off.

michael
michael
Reply to  James
6 months ago

I do not think it is that simple mate , Huawei does in fact have some skeletons in the closet , and if you think a hard line communist government would not use an opportunity from industries it supports to gain an edge on the world stage well , i think you may be mistaken . Chinese old hard liners have shown time and time again , they like their own way. remember that island they promised they where not building in ocean , and where not going to militarize it ? see how that turned out 🙂 ? Dont… Read more »