The Impact Of The Huawei Ban And Origin Of Smartphone Patents

We analyzed ~22,000 mobile phones from the Semantics3 Catalog. Here’s what we found.

Consumers can expect an ~15% decline in choice if all Huawei phones are withdrawn

Origin Of Smartphone Patents

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Q1 hedge fund letters, conference, scoops etc

Huawei makes 1 in 5 mid-tier phones ($100-$400)

Origin Of Smartphone Patents

...and ~15% of all premium phones

Origin Of Smartphone Patents

The <$100 category won’t be affected though

Origin Of Smartphone Patents

Impact on Third-Parties

US firms supply a quarter of Huawei’s needs

Origin Of Smartphone Patents

Here are the US suppliers who will be most affected

Origin Of Smartphone Patents

These suppliers could lose more than $1.75 billion in revenue

Origin Of Smartphone Patents

One of the consequences of the ban is that Huawei might be forced to leave the Android ecosystem. How devastating is this?

Here’s how OS market share has evolved over the years

Origin Of Smartphone Patents

This is typical of the ”Network Effect” at play.

In the initial period when the number of users is low, the product/network doesn’t offer much value.

But, the value of the product increases exponentially as the user base multiplies, even though costs increase only linearly. As the number of users reaches a critical mass, the value from the network far surpasses the potential cost of adding new users.

As value derived from the network reaches a critical point, it creates barrier of entry for other networks -- few networks survive and oligopolies are formed.

Huawei Ban

In the case of operating systems, Windows fell away early because it couldn’t reach critical mass. And the industry is now dominated by Android/iOS.

It will be very difficult for Huawei to succeed at introducing new operating system because of this barrier of entry.

If it does use its branding and distribution to find a way through though, it could pose a credible threat to the incumbent OSs.

Huawei Ban

Intellectual Property Landscape

Why do IP licenses matter?

IP licenses account for 5% of the sale price of device -- this money accrues towards the revenue of major patent holders, such as Google and Apple.

For Huawei, the inability to access patents might be a body blow. Without access to standard-essential patents Huawei might be blocked from using foundational technology.

And unlike the case of suppliers, Huawei cannot even look to source these patents from non-American competitors.

So how much at risk is Huawei?

Origin of smartphone patents worldwide (PATSTAT)

Huawei Ban

Firms from the USA hold 20 - 40 % of all patents in PATSTAT

Origin of smartphone patents worldwide (USPTO)

Huawei Ban

Firms from the USA holds 60 % of all patents in USPTO

The Competition / Biggest Winners

Closest Competitors in terms of Brand Value

Huawei Ban

We used a Gradient Boosting model to isolate the value of each of the top mobile phone brands, by comparing phone prices against phone characteristics and specifications.

Motorola stock has risen ~26% over past 6 months

Huawei Ban

... Samsung by ~13% ...

Huawei Ban

... and LG by ~19%

Huawei Ban

Article by Gunjankumar Solanki, Semantics3

About the Author

Jacob Wolinsky
Jacob Wolinsky is the founder of, a popular value investing and hedge fund focused investment website. Prior to ValueWalk, Jacob was VP of Business Development at SumZero. Prior to SumZero, Jacob worked as an equity analyst first at a micro-cap focused private equity firm, followed by a stint at a smid cap focused research shop. Jacob lives with his wife and four kids in Passaic NJ. - Email: jacob(at) - Twitter username: JacobWolinsky - Full Disclosure: I do not purchase any equities anymore to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest and because at times I may receive grey areas of insider information. I have a few existing holdings from years ago, but I have sold off most of the equities and now only purchase mutual funds and some ETFs. I also own a few grams of Gold and Silver