While it remains unclear exactly how President Trump intends to help ZTE “get back into business, fast” following a cataclysmic ban on imports of components manufactured by US companies, Samsung might be able to lend a more specific (and vital) hand.
The Korean company may not have the influence of the man traditionally viewed as the most powerful on earth, but it can’t hurt to gain the support of the world’s top smartphone vendor and largest chipmaker.
Samsung has been recently deriving the bulk of its impressive profits from the latter division, with memory chips by far the chaebol’s most successful business nowadays, while Exynos SoCs continue to keep a somewhat low profile, nonetheless brimming with growth potential.
After restricting said in-house processor designs to its own mobile devices, as well as a few Meizu phones, Samsung is actively seeking new partners, “talking to all OEMs”, according to Inyup Kang, the head of the System LSI department.
Kang was unwilling to name names of smartphone manufacturers Samsung might be in more advanced discussions with, although at least one new client for Exynos chipsets should be announced no later than “the first half of 2019.”
Of course, ZTE needs a Qualcomm replacement ASAP, and MediaTek may not be allowed to step in. For its part, Samsung wants to put even more pressure on industry rival and occasional ally Qualcomm, also looking to branch out into automotive chips for infotainment systems and, someday, autonomous vehicles. The Korean tech giant’s ambition and the Chinese company’s desperation sound like the ideal beginning of a potentially beautiful friendship.