Huawei drops lawsuit over equipment seized by the U.S. government – gpgmail


Huawei has dropped a lawsuit against the Commerce Department and other agencies after the U.S. government released telecommunications equipment seized in September 2017. The suit was filed by the Chinese company’s U.S. subsidiary, Huawei Technologies USA, in June. In a statement, Huawei said it considers the return of the equipment, including servers and Ethernet switches, “as a tacit admission that the seizure itself was unlawful and arbitrary.”

The equipment was confiscated by U.S. officials in Alaska as it was on its way back to China after testing in California. Huawei said the U.S. government determined after an investigation that no export license was needed for the shipment, but did not give the company an explanation for why it had been withheld for two years.

The dropped lawsuit is separate from the one Huawei filed against the U.S. government in March, claiming that a ban on the use of its products by federal agencies and contractors violated due process and is unconstitutional.

Huawei has been on the U.S. government’s entity list since May over concerns that it poses a threat to national security and its equipment may be used for espionage, allegations the company has denied. The trade blacklist prevents it from purchasing from U.S. suppliers without getting clearance from the government first.

Along with ZTE, Huawei has been on the U.S. government’s radar since the House Intelligence Committee identified the companies as potential security threats. Scrutiny has intensified since the U.S.-China trade war began last year, however, and the U.S. government has put more legal pressure on Huawei, which the company described earlier this month as a “malign, concerted effort by the U.S. government to discredit Huawei and curb its leadership position in the industry.”


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Huawei’s Kirin 990 SoC Is the First Chip With an Integrated 5G Modem


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Huawei’s year has been anything but good, but the company has pushed ahead with new technology introductions and smartphone designs. The Chinese firm has now announced its latest SoC, the Kirin 990. The new chip will ship in two flavors — the Kirin 990, and the Kirin 990 5G. These two chips are based on the same SoC design, but there are some significant differences between them.

First, the Kirin 990 5G is built on TSMC’s 7nm+ process node, which utilizes EUV. The Kirin 990, in contrast, is a standard 7nm design. It seems as though Huawei will be the first customer to ship a part that uses EUV for manufacturing. Huawei’s stated reason for using EUV for the 5G variant is that it allowed for a smaller die. Die size on the 5G part is larger than 100mm2, while the LTE chip is less than 90mm2. Transistor counts are also significantly different, with the LTE chip at 8B and the 5G chip at 10.3B.

Kirin-990-Comparison

One interesting fact that Anandtech mentions is that the Kirin 990 was originally expected to use ARM’s Cortex-A77 CPU, not the Cortex-A76. Apparently the Huawei team didn’t like how the Cortex-A77 clocked on TSMC’s 7nm process node. The A77 had higher peak performance, but overall power efficiency between the A76 and A77 was practically identical on 7nm and the A76 design was capable of hitting much higher clocks. Supposedly the A77 tops out around 2.2GHz on 7nm at the moment and the design may not be used widely until 5nm CPUs are available.

The new ARM Mali-G76 implementation is substantially wider than the 10-core implementation used on the previous generation Kirin 980. GPU power efficiency can often be improved by using a wider GPU clocked at lower frequencies, and Huawei believes the new GPU design will still be more power-efficient than the old Kirin 980, despite being substantially wider.

The NPU design is a homegrown Huawei effort. Where the company previously licensed an NPU from Cambricon, the new Kirin 990 uses Huawei’s Da Vinci architecture. Huawei intends to scale this AI processing block from servers to smartphones. It supports both INT8 and FP16 on both cores, whereas the older Cambricon design could only perform INT8 on one core. There’s also a new ‘Tiny Core’ NPU. It’s a smaller version of the Da Vinci architecture focused on power efficiency above all else, and it can be used for polling or other applications where performance isn’t particularly time critical. The 990 5G will have two “big” NPU cores and a single Tiny Core, while the Kirin 990 (LTE) has one big core and one tiny core.

Huawei’s Balong modem will support sub-6GHz 5G signals with a maximum of 2.3Gbps download and 1.25Gbps upload. Overall CPU performance improvements from the Kirin 980 to the Kirin 990 are modest — Huawei claims single-threaded gains of 9 percent and multi-threaded boosts of 10 percent. Power efficiency, however, has improved significantly. The top-end cores are supposedly 12 percent more efficient, the “middle” cores of Huawei’s Big.Little.littlest are supposedly 35 percent more efficient, and the low-end Cortex-A55 chips are 15 percent more efficient. Most workloads are supposed to run on the middle cores for maximum performance/watt.

It seems unlikely that these devices will come to the US market in any numbers, though you may be able to buy them from third-party resellers if the Trump Administration doesn’t take further action against the company. While devices are going to start carrying 5G modems from this point forward, I’ve yet to see a 5G phone I’d actually recommend. While it’s true that the first generation of LTE devices didn’t exactly cover themselves in glory, the first generation of LTE devices didn’t overheat and shutdown when summer temperatures rose above 85F / 29.4C. They didn’t require you to be literally standing underneath an LTE access point in order to see faster service, either. Verizon has already stated that outside city centers, its 5G network will closely resemble “good 4G,” which raises the question of what, exactly, consumers are paying all this money for.

The first LTE devices were the HTC Evo 4G, the Samsung Craft, and the HTC Thunderbolt. They sold for $200, $350, and $250, respectively, though this was in the era of two-year contracts. Apple’s first LTE device was the iPhone 5, which cost $649 if purchased without a contract. Assuming Apple and the other AndroidSEEAMAZON_ET_135 See Amazon ET commerce manufacturers continue to offer 5G as a luxury feature, we’ll likely only see it on devices at or above the $1000 price point for the next 12 months. I wouldn’t pay $1000 for a phone under any circumstances, but I definitely wouldn’t step up to a $1000+ device to buy a feature that I’ve got no chance of using at any point in the next few years.

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Huawei Announces Refreshed P30 Pro with Android 10


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Everyone involved in the mobile industry is watching Huawei’s next moves closely. With a pending export ban in place, Huawei can’t launch new phones with Google-certified Android, so the upcoming Mate 30 may be the first major Android phone to launch without Google apps. Huawei just launched a new phone, but it’s not the Mate 30. In fact, it’s not even “new” by some definitions. The revamped P30 Pro has been unveiled at IFA with a new exterior design and Android 10. 

Huawei first launched the P30 Pro in March of this year, several months before the US Commerce Department added it to the “Entity List.” People and companies land on this list when the government decides they pose a threat to US interests. In this case, Huawei is accused of having close ties with the Chinese government and engaging in espionage activities. Huawei vehemently denies these claims. 

The new P30 Pro has a redesigned exterior with a textured glass effect covering the lower two-thirds of the back panel. It looks a bit like Google’s current Pixel phones, but it’s available in much more fun colors like Mystic Blue and Misty Lavender. The matte glass makes the phones less slippery in the hand as well. The internals specs are unchanged with a Kirin 980 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage. 

The re-released P30 devices will also have Android 10 at launch, along with a new version of its system skin known as EMUI 10. Huawei has made a number of design changes in the new EMUI including bolder app fonts, a Pixel-style quick settings bar, and new icons. Huawei also has a gesture navigation system similar to Google’s. You also get the standard Android 10 features like dark mode, more granular privacy controls, and more. 

So, why re-release the P30 right now? Huawei currently enjoys a second 90-day delay on the full implementation of US export controls. Since the P30 Pro (and other P30 variants) launched before the trade ban, Huawei can continue certifying updates for those phones under the terms of the temporary delay. However, it can’t launch new phones with Google’s support. So, it seems all but certain that Huawei will have to release the Mate 30 without the Play Store and other apps everyone expects on Android. 

The re-launch of the P30 Pro might be a way for Huawei to compensate for the Mate 30. While the Mate 30 will suffer from its lack of Google support, the Google-y P30 Pro is back for another round, and it’s a very similar piece of hardware. It might soften the blow of losing Google apps, but it’s just a temporary fix.

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Trump not interested in talking Huawei with China – gpgmail


During an Oval Office press conference this week, the President told reports that the United States is currently not interesting in broaching the subject of Huawei as part of increasingly heated trade conversations with China. The statement appears to run counter to pat suggestions that he was willing to discuss the U.S. government’s blacklist of the electronics giant during trade talks.

“It’s a national security concern,” Trump said. “Huawei is a big concern of our military, of our intelligence agencies, and we are not doing business with Huawei. And we’ll see what happens with respect to China, but Huawei has been not a player that we want to talk about right now.”

Huawei’s U.S. blacklisting stems from both concerns over potential links to security and spying, as well as alleged sanctions violations. Trump has, however, previously conflated those issues brewing trade war between the superpowers, suggesting that a ban could be lifted with a new U.S.-China deal.

Recent discussions with Chinese President Xi Jinping helped ease restrictions against the company, which could be faced with devastating consequences if a full ban on partnerships with U.S. companies like Google is enacted. Trump also used the question to once again suggest that the toll of tariffs could be avoided if U.S. companies no longer relied on Chinese components and manufacturing.

The new comments appear to find Trump temporarily closing the door to discussions about Huawei in future meetings with the Chinese President, though he did not elaborate further.


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September’s Mate 30 launch could be a major test for Huawei – gpgmail


Apple isn’t the only smartphone manufacturer planning a big September launch. Huawei’s got a big event on the books as well, set for September 18 in Munich, just over a week after the new iPhones are unveiled. For Huawei, however, the Mate 30 announcement is about more than just smartphones.

The event is effectively the first big handset launch since the embattled Chinese manufacturer was added to the U.S. trade blacklist. The move had seemingly been a long time coming, after years of allegations ranging from spying to sanctions violations, but with the ban in place, the move will mark a key moment of truth for a company that has so far been dependent on offerings from U.S. companies like Google.

The Mate 30, which also marks a push into 5G, could potentially launch without Google apps. The recent U.S. government reprieve only applied to already announced products, according to a statement Google gave to Reuters. Trump has suggested that ban on Huawei products could be lifted with a new U.S.-China trade deal, further clouding the suggestion that the move made purely out of concerns for security.

The smartphone maker gave its own comment to Reuters, noting, “Huawei will continue to use the Android OS and ecosystem if the U.S. government allows us to do so. Otherwise, we will continue to develop our own operating system and ecosystem.”

That last bit is a clear allusion to HarmonyOS. The recently unveiled operating is largely limited to low end handsets and IoT device, but Huawei is also certainly readying itself for a longterm life after Google.

Meanwhile, CNBC is citing a source that suggests the phone will launch with or without Google apps, depending on how things shake out over the next few weeks. That would likely amount to a minor nuisance, requiring users to download them after purchase, while a full out Android brand would prove far more harmful to its bottom line.

It seems quite unlikely at the moment, however, that the company would attempt to launch such a high end device with its own partially baked operation system.


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Huawei May Have to Launch the Mate 30 Without Google Apps


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Huawei launches a new Mate-series smartphone every autumn, and it usually sells in large numbers. Things are much more uncertain this year, though. Huawei plans to unveil the Mate 30 lineup on Sept. 18 in Germany, but the US trade ban remains in effect. According to a Reuters report, that means the Mate 30 won’t have Google services, and that could spell trouble for Huawei. 

Trouble started for China-based Huawei shortly after the current US administration took power. The company’s plans to sell the Mate 10 on AT&T and Verizon in early 2018 collapsed in the face of political pressure. When it announced the Mate 20, Huawei opted not to release the phone in the US at all. Tensions between the US and China have escalated over the past year as a trade war rages on. Citing Huawei’s close ties with the Chinese government, the US government has also worked to push the company out of the running for providing 5G infrastructure. 

The US went nuclear earlier this year by adding Huawei to the Commerce Department’s Entity List. That distinction means US-based companies cannot sell or license technology to Huawei unless they have special government approval. Google, which develops the open-source Android platform, was one of the most prominent companies to break ties with Huawei. 

Huawei delayed its folding phone in the wake of the export ban.

While Huawei promises its existing phones will continue to get Android updates, future phones are a different matter. A Google representative contacted by Reuters confirms that the company cannot certify any new devices for Huawei at this time. That means the Mate 30 could launch without Google apps like Gmail, Maps, and the Play Store ecosystem. 

Huawei currently enjoys a second 90-day reprieve from the trade ban, designed to help US companies establish other business relationships. However, Huawei can’t forge any new deals under during the delay, and that means no new Google-certified phones. Google and other companies have applied for licenses to supply Huawei, but the Commerce Department has yet to approve any of them. 

Without Google certification, Huawei is left with the open-source parts of Android along with whatever software it can build. For its native China, that’s not the end of the world. Google services don’t work there anyway. A Mate 30 with no Google apps probably won’t sell in any other part of the world, though. 

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More than 130 U.S. companies have reportedly applied to sell to Huawei, but the Commerce Department has approved none of them – gpgmail


Trump said in July that some U.S. suppliers would be allowed to sell to Huawei while it remains blacklisted, but so far no vendors have been allowed to do so. Reuters reports that more than 130 applications have been submitted by companies that want to do business with Huawei, but the U.S. Commerce Department has not approved any of them yet.

Huawei has served as a bargaining chip in the U.S.-China trade war, which escalated again last week when Trump said he would adds tariffs to $550 billion worth of Chinese imports, after China said it would impose duties of $75 billions on U.S. goods. Trump’s mixed signals during this weekend’s G7 summit also created confusion on Wall Street.

When both presidents met at the G20 Summit in June, Donald Trump told Chinese leader Xi Jinping that he would allow some American companies to sell to Huawei, even though it remains on the Commerce Department’s Entity List. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said the Commerce Department would begin accepting applications again, requiring companies to prove that the tech they sell to Huawei would not pose a national security risk.

But one of the reasons no licenses have been granted yet is because the Commerce Department is unclear about what it is supposed to do. Former Commerce department official William Reinsch told Reuters that “nobody in the executive branch knows what [Trump] wants and they’re all afraid to make a decision without knowing that.”

In addition to providing telecom equipment, Huawei is an important customer for many U.S. tech firms, including Qualcomm, Intel and Micron. Out of the $70 billion in parts it bought last year, $11 billion of that went to U.S. suppliers. The U.S. claims Huawei is a national security risk, a charge the company has repeatedly denied.


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Huawei Talking to Russia About Using Aurora OS in Place of Android


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Huawei became one of the largest telecommunication companies in the world thanks in large part to Android. It was an early supporter of the open-source platform, selling phones in its native China without Google services before expanding internationally. Huawei peaked as the second-largest smartphone maker in the world this year, but a US trade ban threatens to sink the firm. Huawei has toyed with replacing Android on its phones, and it’s reportedly talking to Russia about making some devices with its Aurora OS. 

Things started to go south for Huawei in May of this year when the US Commerce Department added the firm to the “Entity List.” US companies can only export technology to entities if they have special licenses from the government, none of which have been granted in the case of Huawei. Many companies have already cut ties as well. The company currently enjoys a 90-day reprieve from the ban, the second such delay. When that expires, Huawei won’t be able to certify device updates through Google. It would only have access to the open-source parts of Android. 

To plan for this eventuality, Huawei has developed its own homegrown software called HarmonyOS. It claims it could switch to HarmonyOS in a matter of days if it loses access to the desirable parts of Android. That’s not the only avenue it’s pursuing, though. Huawei confirms it has been discussing the possibility of making devices running Aurora OS. 

Aurora OS is a version of Sailfish OS developed by Russian telecom firm Rostelecom. That company is controlled by the Russian government, making Aurora essentially state-sponsored software. It’s unclear what Huawei has in mind, but Rostelecom says it’s exploring “various options for collaboration” with the Chinese telecom giant. 

Sailfish OS is the base for Russia’s Aurora.

Sources claim that Rostelecom and Huawei are currently discussing installing Aurora OS on hundreds of thousands of tablets for use in Russia’s 2020 population census. Huawei is reportedly very interested and has already provided tablet samples running to OS. The original report cites individuals who see this as a pilot project that could lead to consumer Huawei devices running Aurora OS. 

It seems unlikely Huawei would give up on HarmonyOS, but Aurora could be a shortcut to wider distribution in Russia. Google services are less popular in Russia than in most countries, and that could make for an easier transition away from Android.

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Smartphone sales declined again in Q2, surprising no one – gpgmail


Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Smartphone sales are down. Again. After years of growth, the smartphone market’s recent slide has continued into the second quarter of 2019, per numbers from analyst group, Gartner.

At 1.7% year over year, it’s not a huge slice of the overall pie, but it does point to a continued problem for manufacturers, dropping from 374 million to 368 million. The biggest hit continues to be in the high end of the market, as higher prices coupled with longer refresh cycles and fewer compelling features continue to contribute to the decline.

Of the top five markets, only China and Brazil saw growth. At 0.5%, however, China’s slight bump wasn’t enough to turn things around. Interestingly, Gartner notes that some of China’s growth may be due to manufacturers looking to move old flagship stock to make way for 5G models. Additional 5G phones, coupled with more carrier coverage, could drive sales a bit as well in future quarters.

The number two market, India, saw a 2.3% drop y-o-y, as consumer upgrades from feature phones to smartphones began to slow. The firm anticipates that sales will continue to remain slow through the end of 2019.

Apple continued to see declines, though those have slowed compared to the hit it took in the first quarter. Samsung and Huawei, meanwhile, were rare bright spots. Samsung’s growth was led primarily by mid-range and entry-level handsets like its Galaxy A series, while the deferment of Huawei’s U.S. ban helped boost its sale a bit for the quarter.


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China’s Transsion and Kenya’s Wapi Capital partner on Africa fund – gpgmail


Chinese mobile-phone and device maker Transsion is teaming up with Kenya’s Wapi Capital to source and fund early-stage African fintech startups.

Headquartered in Shenzhen, Transsion is a top-seller of smartphones in Africa that recently confirmed its imminent IPO.

Wapi Capital is the venture fund of Kenyan fintech startup Wapi Pay—a Nairobi based company that facilitates digital payments between African and Asia via mobile money or bank accounts.

Investments for the new partnership will come from Transsion’s Future Hub, an incubator and seed fund for African startups opened by Transsion in 2019.

Starting September 2019, Transsion will work with Wapi Capital to select early-stage African fintech companies for equity-based investments of up to $100,000, Transsion Future Hub Senior Investor Laura Li told gpgmail via email.

Wapi Capital won’t contribute funds to Transsion’s Africa investments, but will help determine the viability and scale of the startups, including due diligence and deal flow, according to Wapi Pay co-founder Eddie Ndichu.

Wapi Pay and Transsion Future Hub will consider ventures from all 54 African countries and interested startups can reach out directly to either organization, Ndichu and Li confirmed.

The Wapi Capital fintech partnership is not Transsion’s sole VC focus in Africa. Though an exact fund size hasn’t been disclosed, the Transsion Future Hub will also make startup investments on the continent in adtech, fintech, e-commerce, logistics, and media and entertainment, according to Li.

Transsion Future Hub’s existing portfolio includes Africa focused browser company Phoenix, content aggregator Scoop, and music service Boomplay.

Wapi Capital adds to the list of African located and run venture funds—which have been growing in recent years—according to a 2018 study by gpgmail and Crunchbase. Wapi Capital will also start making its own investments and is looking to raise $1 million this year and $10 million over the next three years, according to Ndichu, who co-founded the fund and Wapi Pay with his twin brother Paul.

Transsion’s commitment to African startup investments comes as the company is on the verge of listing on China’s new Nasdaq-style STAR Market tech exchange. Transsion confirmed to gpgmail this month the IPO is in process and that it could raise up to 3 billion yuan (or $426 million).

Transsion sold 124 million phones globally in 2018, per company data. In Africa, Transsion holds 54% of the feature phone market — through its brands Tecno, Infinix and Itel — and in smartphone sales is second to Samsung and before Huawei, according to International Data Corporation stats.

Transsion has R&D centers in Nigeria and Kenya and its sales network in Africa includes retail shops in Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Egypt. The company also has a manufacturing facility in Ethiopia.

Transsion’s move into venture investing tracks greater influence from China in African tech.

China’s engagement with African startups has been light compared to China’s deal-making on infrastructure and commodities.

Transsion’s Wapi Pay partnership is the second recent event — after Chinese owned Opera’s big venture spending in Nigeria — to reflect greater Chinese influence and investment in the continent’s digital scene.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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