When two Huawei employees got caught using an iPhone earlier this year to send out a “Happy #2019” greeting on Twitter, they were demoted and had to take a pay cut. Not a good look to be seen relying on your American rival’s wares, apparently — and since then, that sentiment has actually escalated in a big way. There are growing calls today in Huawei’s home country of China for a retaliatory ban on Apple products — or, at a minimum, at least a mass exodus from Apple products to homegrown China-made devices in solidarity with Huawei, which Google dramatically cut ties with over the weekend. Heck, even a Chinese diplomat on Tuesday joked on Twitter that Huawei’s logo looks like somebody chopped an apple, hint hint, into tiny pieces.
Which is why, all that said, a confession made by the billionaire founder and CEO of beleaguered Huawei to Chinese state TV on Tuesday is surprising, to say the least — turns out, he’s actually a fan of Apple.
“iPhone has a good ecosystem, and when my family are abroad I still buy them iPhones,” said Huawei’s Ren Zhengfei. “So one can’t narrowly think love for Huawei should mean loving Huawei phones.”
To his point about family members buying iPhones, we actually already had a hint that was indeed the case when Huawei’s CFO — who’s also Zhengfei’s daughter — was found to be carrying a number of Apple devices after she was arrested in Canada at the end of last year.
The South China Morning Post carried Zhengfei’s remarks praising Apple, also noting that they were an attempt to tamp down nationalistic tensions and keep them from getting out of hand. The publication also interviewed a manager who works at one of China’s biggest solar module manufacturers who said he decided to switch out his iPhone 7 with a Huawei P30 because of the recent developments.
“It’s kind of embarrassing to pull an iPhone out of your pocket nowadays when all the company executives use Huawei,” a telecom employee who works in Beijing told the SCMP.
Complicating matters is the fact that Apple CEO Tim Cook has “built up a lot of goodwill in China,” the news outlet goes on to report, making the anti-Apple sentiment not so clear cut. Also, Apple supports a reported 5 million jobs in China.
Nevertheless, Bloomberg on Wednesday reported a Goldman Sachs estimate that Apple earnings could suffer a nearly 30% blow if China were to strike back with a ban on Apple products.