Huawei lost over US$60 million on foldable phones
The Chinese smartphone giant lost between US$60-70m on the foldable Huawei Mate X
Even though Huawei’s foldable Mate X smartphone costs a whopping US$2,400, the company says it’s still losing money on it.
Richard Yu, head of Huawei's consumer business, said in an interview with Chinese media outlet The Paper on Thursday that his company has already lost between US$60 million and US$70 million on foldable phones.
If the figures are accurate, Huawei seems undeterred by the massive losses. The company already launched a new-and-improved foldable phone called the Mate Xs by the end of February. And this one costs even more, coming in at around US$2,700. (In China, the handset sells for US$300 less, putting it in line with the previous model.)
But the Mate X woes don’t appear to be inflicting all of Huawei’s handsets. Yu said sales are going well for the recently announced P40 Lite, which, to be fair, costs a fraction of the price of the Mate X.
Huawei phones are still a challenging sell overseas since a US blacklist has stripped access to Google apps like YouTube, Google Maps and Google Play. Analysts have pointed out that this will affect sales. Huawei has been working to replace Google apps and services with its own Huawei Mobile Services (HMS), but the smartphone maker admits that it would prefer to continue using Google services.
Huawei’s rotating chairman Eric Xu said last week that the company hopes it can offer Google apps on Huawei’s own AppGallery store -- although he didn’t elaborate how that might happen. In the meantime, Huawei has been courting local app makers in a variety of markets for replacements.
"I dare not say that it can meet 100% of users' needs, but it can meet 80% to 90% of users' needs,” Yu said.
Yu also reassured users that Huawei phones will be fine even without US components. Last week, senior US officials agreed on new ways to stop Chinese companies from buying certain optical materials, radar equipment and semiconductors, among other things.
The company still uses components from its US suppliers and maintains good relationships, according to Yu. But he added that Huawei can make many things by itself or use other domestic manufacturers.
While 2019 proved a tough year for the company, Huawei’s annual report shows that it wasn’t all that bad: Huawei remained the second biggest smartphone brand in the world, shipping 240 million phones. About 44 million of those belong to its flagship Mate and P series.
And even if Huawei isn’t making money on the Mate X, it seems that scalpers are. The Mate Xs sold out immediately after going on sale in China last week. By that afternoon, the handsets were showing up online for twice the price.