It looks like Huawei is considering selling its tech to third-party companies. A report from Engadget, which cites a “source with knowledge of the situation,” highlights that Huawei may be interested in selling its 5G Balong 5000 chipsets. The company, however, is reportedly only interested in selling those modems to Apple.
Apple is working hard on bringing 5G to the iPhone, with most rumors suggesting that a 5G iPhone will eventually be released in 2020. The only problem for Apple, however, is that it will need to either develop its own 5G modem, which could take billions of dollars and years to complete, or partner with someone else to use their modems. Qualcomm, which is arguably the leader in 5G modems, is likely off the table, thanks to the bitter patent wars between the two companies, and while Intel is developing a 5G modem of its own, some reports indicate that the company may be having trouble doing so.
Such a move from Huawei to Apple is a little surprising. Huawei is on track to become the world’s largest smartphone manufacturer and is one of Apple’s biggest rivals, especially when it comes to smartphone sales outside of the U.S.
Of course, Apple signing a deal with Huawei would be pretty major news, not only because of their rivalry, but also because of the political climate. Apple is an American company, and Huawei, a Chinese company, has been targeted by the U.S. government over security concerns. The government has even gone as far as to ban the use of Huawei equipment by federal agencies and has been campaigning for other governments to do the same. If Apple were to strike a deal with Huawei, the relationship between the U.S. government and Apple could suffer.
However, Apple may not have much of a choice. With Intel’s 5G modem still under development and Qualcomm off the table, that leaves only a few other companies. The Engadget report notes that UBS analyst Timothy Arcuri said that Samsung and Mediatek were unlikely solutions, with Mediatek not being the best technical solution and Samsung not being a great practical solution.
Ultimately, we think it’s unlikely that Apple will end up partnering with Huawei on 5G modems, even if Huawei is open to the idea. Intel may not be as far ahead as Apple would have liked, but Apple also isn’t necessarily one to rush into new tech — so it will likely be perfectly fine waiting for the modems to be ready.
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