Xiaomi Is Reportedly Considering Building Its Own Smartphone Chips

14 Feb

By Mudit Mohilay, The Tech Portal

Samsung did it. Apple did it. Huawei did it. And apparently, Xiaomi is now planning to repeat the feat too. Reportedly, the Chinese smartphone manufacturer could be looking into making its own chips for smarthphones.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the company could be planning to come up with a phone powered by a custom-made microprocessor and towards that, could introduce its Pinecone chip within a month. The chip is said to have been developed by Beijing Pinecone Electronics, a company closely associated and controlled by the Chinese manufacturer.

Meanwhile, we only have rumors to go on at present. Indeed, these same rumors surfaced last year as well,when it was said that Xiaomi was looking to introduce devices with chips developed in-house in the later half of the year. At that time, a source had told Reuters:

Xiaomi is copying the model of designing processor chips in-house from Apple Inc (AAPL.O), Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (005930.KS) and Huawei Technologies Co Ltd [HWT.UL].

It was also said that the company had hired as many as 200 to 300 people to work on the project. However, nothing substantial came out of it back then.

Meanwhile, the move has two aspects. One, R&D is not chip and there is a reason why only three smartphone manufacturers currently have this capability. The costs entailed in the R&D are huge and unless you have the scale and resources at your command, supporting development can be hard.

Bearing that in mind, an announcement related with in-house chip development now, when the company is already under pressure and is losing ground to other manufacturers in China, would be rather strange. However, if the plans were put in action last year or earlier, then we could simply be seeing the fruits of an earlier labor.

Manufacturing chips could also allow Xiaomi to branch out and exploit a very valuable market. The company usually deploys Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chips in its flagship devices, with the manufacturer at the end of lawsuits and fines in China and elsewhere.

Meanwhile, it will be interesting to see if and how such an announcement takes place. Xiaomi has already said that it won’t have anything to show at the MWC. So devices bearing the company’s in-house chips, if they exist in the first place, would probably not see the light of the day this quarter.