In what could be good news for Huawei, it might soon regain access to Google Play services. Since May, Huawei has been on a US blacklist, which prohibits US companies, including Google, from doing business with Huawei. The result was that Huawei’s flagship Mate 30 came without the Google Play Services, and ran on an open-source version of Android based on the company’s EMUI 10. Now it looks like the US could ease some of these trade restrictions and allow US companies to license to Huawei.
In an interview with Bloomberg, US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said that the US was on ‘phase one’ of a potential trade deal with China. Once this happens, it will issue licenses to allow US companies to sell to Huawei. So far they have 260 license requests from US companies who need to work with Huawei, but Ross also said that not all of these will be approved.
“That’s a lot of applications — it’s frankly more than we would’ve thought. Remember, too, with entity lists there’s a presumption of denial. So the safe thing for these companies would be to assume denial, even though we will obviously approve quite a few of them,” he was quoted as saying by Bloomberg.
For Huawei, approval of licenses could mean the return of Google Play services on its phones, especially the flagship Mate 30. Huawei in the number two smartphone vendor in the world and showed strong growth despite the US ban. In May, the company was placed on the Commerce Department’s “entity list.” This meant that US companies could no longer sell their software or licenses to Huawei.
It also meant that players like Google, Microsoft, Qualcomm, etc were forbidden from doing business with the company. While it was assured that existing Huawei phones would continue to run Google Play Services, future phones would come without Google’s proprietary services. So while Huawei could run the Android open source software, proprietary services such as Google Play, Gmail, YouTube, etc would no longer be possible on the phones, because they require a license from Google.
While most US companies had suspended their deals with Huawei, chip designer ARM Technologies had said in October that it would continue to supply Huawei. ARM, which is based in Britain and provides license to most mobile chipsets in the world, had said that its legal team determined that their technology was of UK origin and did not come under the purview of the US restrictions. Huawei’s proprietary chips such as Kirin 990 mobile processors and Ascend 910 AI chipset are built on ARM’s design architecture. “ARM’s v8 and v9 are UK-origin technologies,” an ARM spokeswoman had told Reuters.
With agency inputs