WTF?! The US sanctions on Huawei are decimating the company's smartphone business, so it is turning to somewhat unlikely revenue sources: pigs. While it isn't creating a smartphone made for hogs, the Chinese giant's AI technology is being used by pig farmers to track and identify the animals.
Huawei has been suffering ever since the Trump administration placed it on an entity list in May 2019 over allegations it spied on customers at the behest of the Chinese government. Being designated a national security threat, Huawei can no longer do business with American companies without a US government license.
The move means new Huawei devices such as the Honor 9X Pro and Mate XS ship without Google apps and Google Play support.
With a lack of access to Google's suite of apps, Huawei's smartphone sales were down 42 percent YoY in the final quarter of 2020, falling to 32 million units from 56 million in Q4 2019. It's also reportedly told suppliers that orders for its smartphones would drop around 60 percent this year, with shipments declining from 189 million in 2020 to 70 million throughout 2021.
"The issue here is not like there's any problems with our quality or experiences of the Huawei products. It's not a level playing field for Huawei as Huawei is caught in between the geopolitical tensions," a company spokesman told the BBC.
In addition to the falling mobile sales, many countries have barred Huawei from involvement in their 5G infrastructure development over security fears.
With profits in its mobile business falling, Huawei is turning to other income sources, from cloud computing and wearables to smart cars. It's also pushing into more traditional industries, including pig farming and coal mining.
China is home to half the world's live pigs, and Huawei's AI tech helps farmers detect disease and track the hogs. Facial recognition can identify individual animals, while other tech monitors weight, diet, and exercise—no video games, sadly. The company also wants to help improve safety and efficiency in the coal mining business.
"The pig farming is yet another example of how we try to revitalize some traditional industries with ICT (Information and Communications Technology) technologies to create more value for the industries in the 5G era," the Huawei spokesman added.
Image credit: Yuangeng Zhang