As the new Biden Administration settles into the White House and contemplates how to deal with a rising China as it inherits a highly escalated tech war with the second largest economy, the topic of technology leadership has come to the forefront of trade and national security concerns. In particular, 5G is seen as the strategic technology that will be the catalyst for revolutionary economic and societal transformation. But 5G cannot and will not happen without essential mobile wireless technologies. Increasingly, the competitiveness of a nation is deemed to rely on leadership in strategic technologies, namely, 5G.
Shortly after Softbank announced that it was looking to spinoff or sell Arm, which they acquired in 2016 for $32 billion, the rumor mill went into full speed. Speculation ran the gamut from Intel to Apple as potential buyers. Who would court Arm? Rumors settled on Nvidia, the GPU company. Would a Nvidia + Arm union make sense? After all, Nvidia has done well and created a disruptive narrative within the semiconductor industry with its GPU-centered plot line which branches off into numerous subplots in telco networking, edge computing and various AI application domains such as autonomous vehicles, intelligent systems and smart manufacturing.
An unexpected but pleasant surprise was announced at Qualcomm's recent earnings call. Huawei had settled its $1.8 billion dispute with Qualcomm regarding the licensing of essential technologies. It represents another important win for Qualcomm in its long and hard fought battle with OEMs including Apple to preserve the integrity and vitality of its technology business. It can be considered a win for innovation. But what does the settlement mean in the grand scheme of things and the rising tensions between the US government and Huawei?