U.S.-China trade war fallout: Google cuts off Huawei’s access to Android

The U.S. crackdown on China-based Huawei Technologies is intensifying — with some major help from Google. The Chinese technology giant — the second largest smartphone seller in the world — is under increased pressure after Google revoked Huawei’s Android license. Google has confirmed that the decision to ban Android on Huawei smartphones is in accordance with orders from the U.S. government.

This latest move against Huawei comes in the wake of the U.S. Commerce Department adding Huawei, along with 70 other affiliated companies, to its “entity list” — which is effectively a trade blacklist. The action is part of a move by President Donald Trump to ban these companies from buying parts or components from any U.S. companies without U.S. government approval. The Trump administration has deemed that these foreign firms undermine and threaten U.S. national security or U.S. foreign policy interests. In addition to Google, other companies including Intel, Qualcomm, Broadcom, and Xilinx, have confirmed that they are not going to supply any of their products to Huawei until further notice.

When Reuters reached Google for a comment, a spokesperson confirmed that Google was “complying with the orders in place and are currently reviewing the implications.”

Will existing Huawei users suffer?

Google confirmed that existing Huawei devices will still be able to access Google’s Play Store services and security protections. However, whether these devices will receive future Android OS updates or not remains unclear. This also raises a question if current Huawei devices will be receiving the soon-arriving Android Q or not. While existing Huawei users will not be affected immediately, they can, however, be impacted if the tech giant decides to curb further Android updates on these devices.

Huawei itself has been an active participant in providing its users with timely updates along with Google. Now, with the ban, the Chinese-telecom giant will be restricted to use the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) for its upcoming devices. This means Huawei can push software and security updates to its new users through their OTA updates only after they’ve been made available in AOSP.

Impact on Huawei

Huawei has a large user market across the globe, especially in China. The ban will have practically no impact on Chinese users as Google services are already restricted in China by the Chinese government. However, the company might take a serious hit from its users outside of China.

The ban will be a major factor for many considering buying Huawei handsets. While the company has always managed to produce efficient hardware, it was Google’s Android OS and other features that made it a good deal for users. Huawei, which trails only Samsung in worldwide smartphone sales, were well on their way to grabbing the top position by 2020. However, considering the current situation, it seems obvious that the company is going to take a hit.

On the other hand, experts suggest that there will be a ripple effect created affecting the U.S. economy. China, the world’s second largest economy after the United States, is also a major trade partner for U.S. companies, especially tech giants such as Intel, Qualcomm, Xilinx, and even Google. Not being able to sell its products to Huawei will have an effect on these companies’ sales and revenue. As a result, it is highly possible the overall U.S. economy will suffer from this move.

Huawei’s response

Huawei has been working on its own operating system for the past few years. The company has stated at various events that they are working on an ecosystem of software for their devices. Richard Yu, one of the Huawei’s top managers, confirmed in a recent interview that the company has its own operating system in place and they were prepared for something like this. Yu said that this was their “Plan B.” He also stated that they would, however, prefer working with the already existing ecosystems of Google and Microsoft.

Apart from Richard Yu’s statement, Huawei, in a limited email response with The Verge, said that the company has made substantial contributions for the growth and development of an Android ecosystem on a global scale. The company also mentioned that their contributions to the Android Open Source Project have largely benefited both users and the industry.

Huawei said that it will continue to provide security updates as well as after-sale services to all existing Huawei smartphones both sold and in stock. They have also added that they “will continue to build a safe and sustainable software ecosystem, in order to provide the best experience for all users globally.” This presumably refers to the company’s very own operating system they’ve been working on.

However, the move of the U.S. banning the supply of products and services to Huawei is going to have a huge impact on the existing global smartphone market. And for global users who wish to continue using Android OS as well as Huawei's smartphones, all you can do is to hope for a resolution.

Featured image: Shutterstock

Sukesh Mudrakola

Sukesh is a computer science graduate by profession and an IT enterprise and tech enthusiast by passion. He holds an expertise in mobile and wearable technologies and is an avid Android fan.

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Sukesh Mudrakola

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