Even if 2018 was not that great of a year for tech giant Apple, since it’s faced stiff competition from Chinese smartphone makers Huawei, Oppo, Xiaomi and OnePlus—employees of rivals seem to keep using iPhones anyway. But, if any tech company is the winner for having the worst year, Apple may just be a far runner-up to Chinese tech giant Huawei.
CFO and daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei was arrested early in December and faces extradition to the United States because of an alleged violation of trade sanctions with Iran. And more and more countries, such as the United Kingdom, Japan, and Australia are becoming wary of using Huawei’s technologies due to security concerns.
And now, to top what may be a nightmarish year for Zhengfei and his colleagues, two of the Huawei’s employees were caught sending New Year’s greetings on Huawei’s official accounts—using iPhones.
That had to hurt. Big time. Especially considering that Huawei had overtaken Apple as the second largest seller of smartphones from January to September 2018.
According to an internal memo, Huawei greeted followers on the company’s Twitter account “Happy -2019” followed by 4 dreaded words, ”via Twitter for iPhone.”
While the tweet was quickly deleted, sharp-eyed netizens took screenshots of the blunder, and receipts went viral all over media sites.
A January 3 internal memo quotes corporate senior vice-president and director of the board Chen Lifang as saying that “the incident caused damage to the Huawei brand.”
According to the memo, the source of the blunder was Sapient, an outsourced media handler, who reportedly went through “VPN problems” on their desktop computer, which led Sapient to send the message using an iPhone with a roaming SIM card so that the New Year’s greeting would go out exactly at midnight.
Twitter, like other social media sites, is blocked in China, due to heavy internet censorship. Therefore users are forced to seek a virtual private network (VPN) connection.
Neither Huawei nor Sapient has chosen to comment on the issue.
Huawei’s internal memo showed that the two employees who sent the tweet had their monthly pay docked by 5,000 yuan (S$ 990) and were demoted by one rank. According to Reuters, who had seen the memo, it said that the mistake “showed procedural incompliance and management oversight.”
Furthermore, the pay of Huawei’s digital marketing director, one of the penalized employees, will be frozen for a year.