Rabu, 24 April 2013

Not interested in the US anymore ?

So says Huawei. Really ?? No, not really. They are very interested in the US. Its just that they have realised that the doors to the US are simply shut for them. There has been a spat going on between the US politicians and Huawei for some time. It looks like the politicians have won.  And it begs the bigger question - can any company in the world be exclusively in one country or region (however big that might be) and hope to be a major player in the world.

Huawei is a telecoms company. They sell networking equipment significantly cheaper than say Cisco. They used to be crappy ( Cisco would snigger at the mention of their name). Not any longer. Same quality, half the price. In an uncomplicated world, companies  should be falling over themselves to buy from them.  But then, the world is not an uncomplicated place.

Huawei is a Chinese company. So what, you might ask ? Huawei's founder and leader was formerly in the Chinese army. Still so what ? Well, the ties with the Chinese government/army/party (same thing) never go away and its quite possible that Huawei will do whatever the Party in China asks it to. Huawei is not a transparent company. It largely refuses requirements that it be so.  And cyber espionage and hacking are weapons that the Chinese government uses against other countries constantly.The world's chief bugger (if you will pardon the bad pun) is China.

So Huawei is a pariah right. Wrong ? The US, and possibly every other major country does the same thing. Except that Obama cannot order Cisco to spy on his behalf while Xi Jinping can so order Huwaei. But then there is enough regulation and oversight in the US to prevent that from happening, or at least knowing that it is happening. And its not at all certain that Huawei would do anything major in the spying arena - its a $35 bn company. If its shown that it is doing something underhand, overnight, it would be expelled from the entire wold. But pompous Senators have repeatedly blocked Huawei from winning major deals in the US. Huawei has tried hard, but has won nothing. In frustration, they have simply given up. The beacon for capitalism and freedom, of course, does not think of the US consumers' interests (of getting things cheaper) and, of course, Cisco and other US competitors have been scrupulously fair , have never lobbied to stall Huwaei and surely windbag Senators have only the national defence of the US at heart.

Begs a question - why is only the US so paranoid. Every country in Europe has no problems dealing with Huawei . Even India, normally a completely paranoid country has plenty of Huawei here. The Chinese brass of Huawei in India go around with names like Ashok Li and Sundar Zhang. By the way, I have to recommend that Ramamritham Liu and Rajalakshmi Wang would also be worthy additions to their team. The only offense they have done to India is to start a Chinese canteen of their own on the grounds that what goes for Chinese food in India is unrecognisable by them and surely Gobi Manchurian is an abomination !

So what will happen to Huawei. They have admitted that they will have to revise their growth plans downwards. Without being truly global, no company can aspire to the big league. 

Or is that really true ? Could a company that's almost exclusively in one country be the largest in the world in its field ? We'll examine that in the next post.
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