In a major blow to Huawei, Google has suspended business with the company, and cancelled the Chinese tech giant’s Android license. Google is ending transfer of hardware, software and technical services, according to an exclusive report by Reuters, and this move will also impact future updates to Huawei phones. Huawei is the second largest smartphone manufacturer in the world, as per research firm Canalys, with almost half its shipments going outside China.
The move comes as the US government has added Huawei to the ‘Entity List’, which means that US companies cannot do business with the Chinese telecom major without ‘explicit approval’ from the government. This comes in the mid of the ongoing trade war between the US and China.
In a statement, Huawei Technologies said they have made substantial contributions to the development and growth of Android around the world and will continue to provide security updates as well as after sales services to all existing customers.
The big question though is what does it mean for Huawei users, given that the Android license has been cancelled.
Will Android continue to run on my Huawei phone?
For now, it appears that Android will continue to work as it does on Huawei phones. This is crucial for those who are on Huawei phones. Android in an official statement said, “For Huawei users’ questions regarding our steps to comply w/ the recent US government actions: 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.”
So yes, Google Play, Google Play Protect will continue to run on your Huawei phone for now, and you will have access to the apps on the Google Play Store. This is crucial because in Huawei’s markets outside of China, the Play Store is important for the overall Android experience.
What will be the impact of this Android pull out on Huawei phones?
Huawei became the second largest manufacturer in the world and according to the International Data Corporation’s (IDC) numbers, the company saw an year-over-year growth of 50.3 per cent in the quarter with 59.1 million units being shipped and a 19 per cent market share. Huawei’s flagship phones like the P30 Pro, the Mate 20 Pro have gotten rave reviews for the company, and its sub-brand Honor is planning to launch a new Honor 20 series at an event in London on Tuesday.
According to Navkendar Singh, Research Director – Devices and Ecosystem, India and South Asia, IDC, Google cancelling the license will have a major global impact given Huawei’s standing in the smartphone world. “Globally, of course, it will have major impact since almost half of its business comes from outside China especially the many markets in Europe. In India, they have never been able to scale up to be a major player. Huawei+Honor has around 4.5% market share in India. So, this will not have much impact as of now. But of course, considering the growth potential in India, this puts a spanner in the Huawei’s possible aggressive plans for India as the growth market in the next 2-3 years, outside of China,” he told indianexpress.com.
In a statement on Twitter, research firm Canalys, said cancelling of the license is bad news for Huawei. “Huawei has created highly competitive hardware, but Google services and Android OS are still critical to consumers in international markets. Losing Google’s mobile services will be detrimental to Huawei’s smartphone business,” reads the statement.
What will happen to Huawei phones in the future?
According to Reuters, Google will stop providing Huawei with hardware and software products, except those covered by open source licenses. Yes, Huawei can still use Android from the AOSP (Android Open Source Project), but proprietary services will be inaccessible.
These could include Gmail, Google Chrome and YouTube apps, given these require a commercial license with Google and are not open-source. While Android assures that Google Play will continue to work for now, the cancelling of the license means future devices might not include this.
A Google spokesperson said in a statement, “We are complying with the order and reviewing the implications.” The statement further adds, “For users of our services, Google Play and the security protections from Google Play Protect will continue to function on existing Huawei devices.”
The move also puts a question mark on updates for Huawei phones in the market, and those that might come in the future. It also means that Huawei will only be able to push updates to its Android version when they come on the AOSP, which is the open source version.
Will Huawei introduce its own operating system on its mobiles?
It looks like Huawei had a plan B in mind just in case they got banned from using Android or Windows and the company has been clearly repeating this. Huawei executive Richard Yu in a recent interview with Die Welt was quoted as saying, “We have prepared our own operating system. Should it ever happen that we can no longer use these systems, we would be prepared. That’s our plan B. But, of course, we prefer to work with the ecosystems of Google and Microsoft.”
Beyond Google: Intel, Qualcomm also suspend ties with Huawei
But Huawei’s problems are going beyond Google. According to a Bloomberg report, Intel Corp, Qualcomm Inc, Xilinx Inc and Broadcom Inc have also said they will not be supplying Huawei till further notice. Huawei “is heavily dependent on US semiconductor products and would be seriously crippled without the supply of key US components”, said Ryan Koontz, an analyst with Rosenblatt Securities Inc told Bloomberg.
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