Huawei outspends Apple on R&D for a 5G Edge

Shenzhen-headquartered company's 2018 R&D budget accounted for 14% of its revenue

FILE PHOTO: A man walks past a sign board of Huawei at CES (Consumer Electronics Show) Asia 2018 in Shanghai, China June 14, 2018. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo
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Huawei, the world’s leading maker of networking equipment spent $15.3 billion on research and development last year. That’s more than double the amount it shelled out roughly five years ago - a pace surpassed by only Amazon among the world’s ten biggest spenders on R&D.

Shenzhen-headquartered company’s 2018 research budget grew 149 per cent from 2014, outpacing increases by Apple, Microsoft, and Samsung over the same period. Amazon’s 210 per cent growth in R&D expenditure was the biggest spent globally.

“All the business achievements Huawei has made should be credited to the company’s handsome R&D investment budget,” said Xiang Ligang, a telecoms consultant and chairman of industry website “It has significantly boosted the company’s competitiveness.”

That ballooning outlay, aimed at shoring up Huawei’s lead in 5G networking, is likely to unnerve Washington. The Trump administration accuses the Chinese company of aiding Beijing in espionage - something it’s repeatedly denied - and is orchestrating a campaign to block it from 5G rollouts around the globe.

Huawei is making increasingly aggressive forays into everything from mobile and cloud services to semi-conductors. In money terms, its 2018 R&D budget trailed only those of Amazon, Alphabet and Samsung, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

The US government is waging a campaign against Huawei as companies around the world prepare to invest billions of dollars in 5G networks, a key ingredient for self-driving cars and other advanced infrastructure. Still, nations accounting for roughly 40 per cent of the world’s gross domestic product are either embracing Huawei or appear unlikely to fully restrict the Chinese vendor.

Huawei’s 2018 R&D budget accounted for 14 per cent of its revenue, the second-highest proportion, after Alphabet, among the top six spenders.

In addition, for the years from 2014 to 2018, Huawei ranked seventh in overall R&D expense. Amazon was the world leader over the same period.