Call me an Apple fan, says Huawei founder and chief exec
Ren Zhengfei says he still takes lessons from American rival
An Apple fanboi has emerged in the most unlikely of places – Ren Zhengfei, founder and CEO at Huawei, the China HQ'd giant whose latest flagship handset is going head to head at home with its US rival.
The 78-year-old exec and former engineer in the Chinese army, told university students and academics attending the Huawei-sponsored International Collegiate Programming Contest in July that he still takes lessons from Apple.
"We often explore why Apple’s products are so good, and we can also see the gap between us and Apple," he said in a Q&A reported by the South China Morning Post.
"I'm very happy to have a teacher that give us the opportunity to learn and compare [ourselves against]. In that sense, it would not be an exaggeration to call me an Apple fan."
Clearly the man is not bitter, which is a good thing as bitterness is a wasted emotion, yet some might say he could be forgiven for being so after watching his business picked apart and challenged by the US government.
Huawei was briefly, in 2019, the biggest smartphone hardware maker on the planet, accounting for almost a quarter of the market. However from May that year it was placed on the Entity List by then US President Donald Trump and sales have plunged quarter-on-quarter ever since, to the point Huawei is no longer among the top 10 manufacturers worldwide.
The latest chips were withheld from Huawei and its Android handsets could no longer support Google apps or services including the Play Store. Customers in the West abandoned it.
Yet Huawei surprised many industry onlookers recently by releasing the premium Mate 60 phone, powered by the homegrown HiSilicon Brin 9000S system-on-chip, reportedly made by China's China's Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation and understood to based on the until then unaccounted send generation 7nm-class production process and stacking.
So Huawei is emulating Apple in designing its own silicon.
- Pot calls the kettle hack as China claims Uncle Sam did digital sneak peek first
- So what if China has 7nm chips now, there's no Huawei it can make them 'at scale'
- China kind-of-mostly denies it's banned iPhones from use in government
- China iPhone curbs reportedly extend to local government and state-owned businesses
This move caused all sort of upset stateside as politicians struggled got understand how, despite years of sanctions, Huawei was able to overcome seemingly insurmountable adversity to compete. And it'll have competition from Apple's iPhone 15, with e-commerce giant saying locals had placed more than 3 million pre-orders via its platform for all four models by the beginning of this week.
Ren justified his favorable position toward Apple by saying he is against "xenophobia." This is a markedly different tone from recent years when the founder talked of Huawei fighting for its own survival in the face of commercial barriers being erected by Washington. ®