Economy

Huawei US ban metastasizes to ARM - where next?

Huawei US ban metastasizes to ARM - where next?

Even if Huawei manages to switch from USA component suppliers to, say, Asian ones for parts like the Corning Gorilla Glass or cellular modems, it's practically impossible to build a competitive smartphone without a chip that uses ARM tech. Other than issuing a statement that said it was "complying with all of the latest regulations set forth by the U.S. government" ARM declined any further statement on the topic.

ARM told staff they were no longer allowed to "provide support, delivery technology (whether software, code, or other updates), engage in technical discussions, or otherwise discuss technical matters" with Huawei, according to the memo seen by the BBC. Without support from ARM, the company won't be able to develop any new chipset. ARM staff have also been instructed to "politely decline" and end conversations related to business with Huawei employees at industry events.

Huawei said it valued its close relationships with its partners, but it recognized the pressure some of them are under "as a result of politically motivated decisions".

ARM designs for the basis for most mobile processors that we have today.

Update #2, May 22, 2019, 09:05 a.m. ET: A Huawei spokesperson has released a statement in response to the recent Arm developments (via The Verge).

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Huawei did not comment, despite our cunningly worded invitations to do so. This report comes after Google had cancelled the Android license for Huawei.

The chip designer is another big tech company that has stopped work with Huawei after the US Department of Commerce added Huawei to its "Entity List".

"We are confident this regrettable situation can be resolved and our priority remains to continue to deliver world-class technology and products to our customers around the world", a spokesman said.

There are a few ways Huawei could get out of this mess: 1) the US and China come to a trade agreement and everything goes back to normal and the Chinese company's partners start working with it again 2) Huawei switches all of its component suppliers to non-U.S. ones or 3) Huawei becomes entirely independent and designs and manufactures all of its technologies on its own. Huawei, the second-largest maker of smartphones and a huge presence in network hardware, is better equipped than most Chinese firms to weather this storm.

Although Huawei builds its own processors, the company needs a license from ARM to legally manufacture these.