The United States crackdown on China’s Huawei Technologies has spurred its biggest domestic rival to build up its own chipmaking capabilities, including by snapping up top engineering talent from its own suppliers.
The U.S. Commerce Department recently extended the trade ban against Huawei until May 2021 and moved to block many chip makers from supplying HiSilicon Kirin SoCs to the company.
While the trade ban currently only affects Huawei, the uncertainty of the situation has led other Chinese manufacturers like OPPO to start investing in their own chipmaking capabilities
With the recent extension and escalation of the trade ban, OPPO is now stepping up efforts to design its own mobile chips and has managed to snag top engineering talent from its own suppliers MediaTek and Unisoc.
Oppo which is China’s second-largest smartphone maker and fifth in the world has hired several top executives from its key chip supplier MediaTek, as well as many engineers from UNISOC, China’s second-largest mobile chip developer, to create an experienced chip team in Shanghai, sources said. Taiwan-based MediaTek is the world’s second-largest mobile chip developer after Qualcomm of the U.S.
In a statement regarding the recent revelations, OPPO told Nikkei that it “already has the chip-related capability” and that “any R&D investment is to strengthen its product competitiveness and user experience.”
Xiaomi, another Oppo rival and the world’s No. 4 smartphone maker, formed a chip unit in 2014, but it has not introduced the second generation of its own mobile chip design since the first one in 2017. Currently Xiaomi still mostly relies on Qualcomm and MediaTek for smartphone chips.