The move could have dramatic implications for Huawei smartphone users, as the telecoms giant will no longer have access to Google’s proprietary services which include the Gmail ,Google Maps and Google Play Store.
President Trump issued an executive order last week banning “foreign adversaries” from doing telecommunication business in the US. The move was widely understood as a ban on Huawei products, and now we’re starting to see the fallout. According to a report from Reuters, Google has “suspended” business with Huawei, and the company will be locked out of Google’s Android ecosystem. It’s the ZTE ban all over again
Reuters details the fallout from Trump’s order, saying
“Huawei Technologies Co Ltd will immediately lose access to updates to the Android operating system, and the next version of its smartphones outside of China will also lose access to popular applications and services including the Google Play Store and Gmail app.”
US internet giant Google, whose Android mobile operating system powers most of the world’s smartphones, said it was beginning to cut ties with China’s Huawei, which Washington considers a national security threat.
“We are complying with the order and reviewing the implications,” a Google spokesperson told AFP.
“We assure you while we are complying with all US gov’t requirements, services like Google Play & security from Google Play Protect will keep functioning on your existing Huawei device,” Google’s official @Android account tweeted.
In the midst of a trade war with Beijing, President Donald Trump has barred US companies from engaging in telecommunications trade with foreign companies.The measure targets Huawei, the world’s second-biggest smartphone maker, which has been listed by the US Commerce Department among firms that American companies can only trade with if authorities grant permission. The ban includes technology sharing. Google, like all tech companies, collaborates directly with smartphone makers to ensure its systems are compatible with their devices.
Huawei sent a statement to AR’s Technical and others about the ban, saying “Huawei will continue to provide security updates and after-sales services to all existing Huawei and Honor smartphone and tablet products, covering those that have been sold and that are still in stock globally. We will continue to build a safe and sustainable software ecosystem, in order to provide the best experience for all users globally.”
Huawei’s loss of access “to updates” is most likely a reference to Android Q, which hardware manufacturers get early access to. Since Android is open source, Huawei could resume development once the source code comes out. The real killer is the loss of the Google Play Store and Google Play Services, which unlocks access to the billions of Android apps and popular Google apps like Gmail and Maps. Reuter’s claims this will only happen to “the next version” of Huawei’s smartphones, presumably meaning existing devices with the Play Store will continue to work.
If the ban really does stick, a possible future path for Huawei is to ship forked, Google-less versions of Android with the Huawei App Store, extending its Chinese app ecosystem to the rest of the world. Huawei has also done some development work on an in-house operating system, but it’s unclear if this would be a better option than forking Android. Huawei is the number two smartphone vendor in the world, behind Samsung and ahead of Apple, and saw its device shipments grow by an explosive 50 percent, year over year. Whatever decision it makes is a big deal for Google and the rest of the Android ecosystem.
Huawei’s executive Richard Yu in a recent interview said,
“We have prepared our own operating system, if it turns out we can no longer use these systems, we will be ready and have our plan B”
Reports also says that several US chipmakers like Intel, Qualcomm providing vital hardware for Huawei’s smartphones have stopped supplying the Chinese firm.
After losing Android license, Huawei is losing support from the major chipmakers as well. As reported by Bloomberg, manufacturers including Intel Corp., Qualcomm Inc., and Broadcom Inc. have informed their employees that they will stop supplying components to Huawei until further notice. Bloomberg said Monday,
It buys about $67 billion worth of components each year, including about $11 billion from US suppliers, according to The Nikkei business daily.
Huawei “is heavily dependent on US semiconductor products and would be seriously crippled without supply of key US components,” said Ryan Koontz, a Rosenblatt Securities analyst, although the Chinese firm is believed to have stockpiles in place.
The suspension from the chipmakers came right after Google cut off Android’s license to Huawei, following an executive order from the Trump administration prohibiting US organizations from using telecommunications equipment manufactured by the companies which pose a security risk to the country.
US government agencies are already banned from buying equipment from Huawei. Huawei founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei said Saturday that “We have not done anything which violates the law,” Ren’s army background and Huawei’s opaque culture have fueled suspicions in some countries that the firm has links with the Chinese military and intelligence services.
Huawei doesn’t do much smartphone business in the US, so banning Huawei from selling phones to US consumers won’t change much. Huawei has made a few attempts to break into the US market, but pressure from Congress on Huawei’s individual business partners, like AT&T and Verizon, have caused them to walk away from deals with the company. Besides smartphones, Huawei is also one of the biggest suppliers of network and telecom equipment in the world, and this ban will keep the company’s routers, towers, and other equipment out of US networks. An earlier Reuters report detailed the problem the ban would cause in rural states like Wyoming and Oregon, which have adopted Huawei equipment.
Huawei is a rapidly expanding leader in 5G technology, and currently has the most advanced and cheapest 5G capacities in the world. Its smartphones outsold Apple’s iPhones in the first quarter of this year, seizing the California Company’s second-place spot in a tightening smartphone market dominated by Samsung. But the Chinese firm remains dependent on foreign suppliers.
The ban “may cause China to delay its 5G network build until the ban is lifted, having an impact on many global component suppliers,” he added. The companies themselves did not comment.
Huawei is the target of an intense campaign by Washington, which has been trying to persuade allies not to allow China a role in building next-generation 5G mobile networks. Super-fast networking 5G, the fifth-generation successor to today’s decade-old 4G technology which is struggling to keep pace with global broadband demand, promises radically quicker transfers of data.