Telco consultant Bengt Nordström was in characteristically forthright form when he compared Ericsson and Huawei's presence at Mobile World Congress this week.
While there was no shortage of press material coming from both companies – new products, tech demonstrations, telco partnerships etc. – it was the difference in their physical presence that struck the Sweden-based consultant.
Speaking to Total Telecom on Wednesday, Nordström acknowledged there was a general perception that Börje Ekholm's first MWC presentation as CEO of Ericsson lacked the kind of fighting talk that employees and the broader industry needed to hear.
It was also worth noting that as in previous years, Ericsson occupied the entire end of hall two in the Fira Gran Via, but as impressive as the exterior looked, the interior of the hall was noticeably toned down compared to a year before.
By contrast, Huawei's hall "was really impressive," Nordström said. You feel like "you're entering the hall of the market leader. It was the feeling you used to have with Ericsson for many, many years."
Huawei expects to report full-year 2016 revenue of USD 74.8 billion; the company initially predicted it would hit the USD 70 billion mark by 2018. By comparison, Ericsson and Nokia's full-year 2016 revenue came in at USD 24.5 billion, and USD 25.2 billion respectively. Cisco's fiscal 2016 revenue came in at USD 49.2 billion.
Nordström dismissed the idea that Huawei owes some of its financial success to support from the Chinese government.
"They have very much come to where they are on their own merits," he argued.
While the Chinese government backs Huawei in trade disputes, and probably has access to its financials, it is otherwise a private company, he said.
Huawei is "in the same, tough infrastructure business that anyone else is," he continued, noting that they have also successfully ventured into the device market, while the likes of Ericsson and Nokia retreated.
Huawei is the first number-three player "that is not dying from trying to challenge the market leaders," Samsung and Apple, Nordström said.
"They are on a very nice run there," he said, pointing to aggressive product release schedules and high-quality hardware. They are "a very serious competitor to Samsung," he said. – Total Telecom