Huawei turns to pig farming and coal mining as phone sales drop 42%

Huawei turns to pig farming and coal mining as phone sales drop 42%

Huawei, the Chinese smartphone specialist that once dominated the telecoms industry, has now turned to pig farming and coal mining following plummeting sales for its core business.

Despite once ruling the roost and having produced some of the best camera phones in the world, Huawei's fortunes have turned swiftly south since falling foul of the Trump administration. 

Since being blacklisted by the US as a threat to national security, Huawei found itself locked out of Google's ecosystem and barred from trading with American suppliers – leaving the once cutting-edge company unable to compete on the 5G frontier, as necessary components cannot be imported. 

Consequently its sales sank by some 42% in the final quarter of 2020, and the manufacturer has been forced to find other applications for its technology – which, according to the BBC, includes pig farming and coal mining. 

Such avenues can be explored without interference from the US government, thanks to them being huge domestic industries in Huawei's Chinese homeland. Indeed, China's pig farming industry is the largest in the world, with the nation being home to half the pigs on the planet.

"Technology is helping to modernize pig farms with AI being introduced to detect diseases and track pigs," reports the BBC. "Facial recognition technology can identify individual pigs, while other technology monitors their weight, diet and exercise."

That same approach is being applied to China's coal mining industry, with Huawei having announced a mining innovation laboratory in China's Shanxi Province that looks to improve efficiency and safety (and also reduce the workforce).  

"We can still survive even without relying on phone sales," said Huawei founder and chief executive, Ren Zhengfei, who holds little hope that US sanctions will be lifted. Sadly, it seems that the manufacturer will continue to steadily recede from relevance on the global smartphone stage – though perhaps it will revolutionize other industries in the same way it has done for telecoms. 

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James Artaius

The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a journalist and started working in the photographic industry in 2014 (as an assistant to Damian McGillicuddy, who succeeded David Bailey as Principal Photographer for Olympus). In this time he shot for clients like Aston Martin Racing, Elinchrom and L'Oréal, in addition to shooting campaigns and product testing for Olympus, and providing training for professionals. This has led him to being a go-to expert for camera and lens reviews, photo and lighting tutorials, as well as industry news, rumors and analysis for publications like Digital Camera MagazinePhotoPlus: The Canon MagazineN-Photo: The Nikon MagazineDigital Photographer and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and talks at The Photography Show. He also serves as a judge for the Red Bull Illume Photo Contest. An Olympus and Canon shooter, he has a wealth of knowledge on cameras of all makes – and a fondness for vintage lenses and instant cameras.