Huawei Reportedly Resorts to Corporate Espionage in Attempt to Reverse Engineer Technology from Apple

Huawei reportedly uses shadowy methods to attempt to reverse engineer technology from Apple.

According to a new report from The Information, China-based Huawei is targeting Apple and other competitors in an effort to ascertain their trade secrets in key areas, including smart watches and smartphones.

Huawei engineers reportedly have been attempting to appeal to various Apple suppliers and manufacturers with promises of large orders, but instead use the opportunity to try and intrude upon the Cupertino company’s component production processes.

In the first example outlined by the report, a number of Huawei engineers working on a smartwatch met with an Apple supplier last fall in an attempt to pry into the specifications of the Apple Watch’s heart rate sensor. According to the report, the Huawei engineers told the supplier that their smartwatch’s design was similar to that of the Apple Watch but would refuse to share schematics, instead asking the supplier to provide them with an estimated cost of the component — the implication being that Huawei wanted to glean information from Apple’s cost structure.

“Our design is similar to Apple’s,” the engineer wrote in a text message to the executive with the supplier. “Let’s first talk generally about the cost of a prototype before we provide the schematic. Sales of Huawei wearables this year are expected to hit 1 million units.”

In another example, the Chinese company allegedly copied Apple’s 2016 MacBook Pro hinge design, allowing the laptop to be thinner while also linking the display to the logic board. Huawei used a strikingly similar design for its 2018 MateBook Pro, which the report alleges came from the company shopping Apple’s schematic around to various suppliers until it found one willing to manufacture the stolen design.

“Huawei approached multiple Apple suppliers with expertise making the component and provided them with the same schematic,” reads the report. “Those suppliers recognized the component as Apple’s design and refused to make it for Huawei, the person said. But Huawei eventually found a willing manufacturer.”

Huawei’s tactics apparently extend beyond suppliers, too, as it has reportedly tried to extract information from former Apple employees. According to the report, one former Apple worker interviewed at Huawei immediately after leaving the Cupertino company but was instead pestered with questions not about his work ethic but about upcoming Apple products and features. That former Apple worker then made the decision to stop taking interviews with Huawei.

“It was clear they were more interested in trying to learn about Apple than they were in hiring me,” the person explained.

Huawei has found itself at the center of a number of controversies. As more European countries follow the United States and turn away from the world’s biggest telecommunications equipment-maker, scrutiny grows over Huawei’s close ties with the Chinese government and allegations its equipment could hold backdoors to enable spying, which the company denies.