Analysis: Will the world accept the Huawei subculture?
People try Huawei's latest smartphones in a flagship store, Shanghai, China, September 25, 2023. /CFP
People try Huawei's latest smartphones in a flagship store, Shanghai, China, September 25, 2023. /CFP

People try Huawei's latest smartphones in a flagship store, Shanghai, China, September 25, 2023. /CFP

Huawei has been a hot topic in the news recently. The telecommunications giant left American politicians scratching their heads with its stunning chip breakthrough for its latest Mate 60 smartphone series.

But this analysis is not focused on gadgets. Let's look at another step the company has taken – creating a Huawei subculture.

A subculture is a smaller group of people than a culture who are interested in more specific and niche genres. In the Huawei example, some gadget lovers are more interested in Huawei products than others.

Memes around the Shenzhen-based company, created intentionally or accidentally, kept influencing more and more people on Chinese social media, attracting many to become what were previously referred to as "fanboys."

The catchphrase of Richard Yu, head of Huawei's consumer business, has been echoing on Chinese social media. Yaoyaolingxian, which means "way ahead," can be seen virtually everywhere.

Though Yu himself was cautious about using the phrase at Monday's keynote speech, the audience didn't care, shouting "yaoyaolingxian" whenever they thought it appropriate.

Another example is the appearance of renowned actor Andy Lau for Huawei's new "Ultimate Design" luxury brand.

Lau is related to Huawei because the last character of his name is exactly the same as the leading character in Huawei's name in Chinese.

Online trolls have long been baiting anti-Huawei bots by composing questions with Lau's name that are totally unrelated to Huawei.

The mixed acceptance

The Huawei subculture is cool to some, while a few others don't subscribe to the appeal.

The users of a certain brand often defend the brand they chose and even the brand's owner. This usually happens to big names like Samsung, Apple and Xiaomi in consumer electronics. Now Huawei also seems to be enjoying the same privilege.

Huawei smartphones often come with the company's user forum app preinstalled, where users can engage in discussions and post feature requests to the company. Such interactions can reinforce the users' sense of belonging and may slowly lure them into the subculture.

But such measures don't always work. Many people on social media described the Huawei fan culture as poisonous because some staunch followers launched verbal attacks on the users of other brands.

Though the "poison fan problem" is not for Huawei alone, the recent hype of the brand has exposed the problem to a broader audience, not just gadget lovers.

Outside of China, there are also lovers and haters of the Huawei subculture.

Some lovers of the brand created news websites, web forums and developer communities to contribute to the culture. They often see Huawei as a rebellion against Google's digital ecosystem, as the Huawei phones don't come with Google apps preinstalled, if not banned from using them.

The haters, on the other hand, see Huawei as an unnecessary addition to the gadget world because Huawei's efforts may make the already-fragmented Android world even less manageable.

Many haters don't love Huawei because some "Huawei zealots" pushed too far to recommend the brand.

All in all, Huawei is actively trying to gather a huge fanbase. But the outcome of such an effort will be determined by their products – if they can keep making amazing gadgets with the current tech lockdown.

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