How Huawei Targets Apple Trade Secrets


The Chinese giant has encouraged its employees to try to obtain by all means information and secret data on its competitors. Apple would be high on the list of "spy" companies.

In a survey published yesterday, The Information highlights Huawei's methods to try various ways to discover the production secrets of different giants of tech, including Apple.

Glean information ...

Thus, the survey site indicates that a few months ago, a Huawei engineer in charge of the development of his connected watches would have made an appointment with one of the suppliers of Apple under the pretext of wanting to negotiate the mass production of many devices. During the meeting, accompanied by four other engineers, he tried to obtain as much information as possible about the Watch.

This case would not be an isolated case: several suppliers or service providers of Apple would have been contacted by employees of Huawei over the months. Obviously, the Chinese giant denies any wrongdoing. Nevertheless, legal attacks against Chinese society are beginning to accumulate in the United States, where economic tensions between the two countries are becoming stronger.
Earlier this month, a US company in Illinois announced it had collaborated on a federal investigation into the theft of its intellectual property - a potentially revolutionary drink - by ... Huawei.

in a very organized way

These practices seem not only common but organized. According to The Information, which quotes the US Department of Justice, Huawei allegedly owned a rewards program for its employees that successfully stole sensitive industrial data. The information was then posted on an internal website or sent to a specific email address. They were then reviewed by the "Competition Management Group".

If in the past, Apple has already accused companies of stealing intellectual property - this was the case for Samsung - it would seem that the espionage of Huawei is of a different magnitude.

The Chinese giant is believed to have copied a connector developed by Apple to make possible the design change initiated in 2016 for its MacBook Pro. This thinner connector connects the display to the motherboard by reducing the size of the hinge. The Huawei MateBook Pro, whose design is very similar to that of Apple laptops, would use an almost identical connector that would include the same thirteen elements, assembled in the same way.

Huawei reportedly appeared before various manufacturers with a schematic of this component that many would have identified as close to that of Apple. They would have refused to manufacture it, until Huawei found a less scrupulous supplier.

But the quest for information does not stop with Apple's Chinese partners. Huawei would try to recruit former employees of the Cupertino company. At the very least, they would have job interviews where recruiters seem more interested in the products being developed at Apple than the candidate. To know what the very secret American giant is preparing is a piece of great value.

Competitive inequity

In a world where the design and organization of a production line is a precious secret, because the least optimization can generate millions of savings, these revelations show the difficulty the tech giants have in developing their products. products away from prying eyes.
Especially since China is the only country that can centralize the mass production of these high-tech objects that we use on a daily basis. Only the Middle Kingdom seems to be able to meet the cost requirements, but also and especially the amount of labor available.

Forced to stay in China for its most popular products, Apple would be more paranoid and seek to better protect its intellectual property and its components. Apple suppliers are therefore subject to heavy constraints (fragmentation of the production chain, secrecy of machine tools, limited access, etc.) and heavy fines in the event of identified leaks.

These organized attempts to steal the fruit of internal research pose big problems and especially allow Chinese companies like Huawei, in this case, to make huge savings in R & D. Margin issue aside, Huawei can offer products almost identical to those of Apple at much lower prices. Difficult in this case to innovate and stay competitive.

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