- New designs of Huawei smartphones are set to lose access to some Google apps.
- This will hit Huawei’s ability to run phone OS
- The current Huawei smartphone users with Google apps, however, will be able to use and download app updates provided by Google
Huawei Loses Access to Proprietary Android OS, Play Store
A new report from Reuters today says that Google has purposely cut some business ties to Chinese tech giant Huawei following the US government placing the company on a recent trade blacklist.
The Trump Administration added Huawei to the very blacklist on Thursday, placing immediate restrictions on the company that severely restrict the ability of other businesses to work with them. These very restrictions are appearing to be driving Google’s decision to cut some ties with Huawei, specifically any business that provides Huawei access, technical support, and other arrangements around Google popular line of apps and its Android mobile OS.
The move somehow doesn’t appear to have come as a surprise blow to Huawei, who has been working on developing its own OS software and technology in case the US succeeded in cut down potential business partnerships.
“No matter, whatever happens, the Android Community doesn’t possess any legal right to block any other company from accessing its open-source license,” said Eric Xu, the rotating chairman of Huawei, in an interview with Reuters in March.
Good news for the current owners of Huawei devices running the Android OS is that it will continue to have access to Google App Updates through Google Play, but future Huawei devices will not be able to download these apps from the app store.
While Huawei can still run the open source Android OS on their phones through Google’s open source license, but this does not cover the use and access to Google’s line of apps, which requires a separate business agreement which Huawei will no longer be able to get.
Impact of Blacklist Limited in China, Business in the US and Europe Will Suffer
The impact of the blacklist, however, will likely be limited in China, Huawei’s biggest market, as a majority of Google’s apps are already banned in China and competitor products from Weibo and Tencent have a position of market dominance.
Moreover, the sale of Huawei’s devices in the US has already been restricted from the past, so there isn’t likely to be any real harm on revenue from sales in the US. The foremost concern for Huawei will be its global supply chain, which will have to revisit whatever arrangements they have with the company to avoid running out of US restrictions.
The company’s presence in Europe, its second-largest market, is the second most concern. Unlike in China, Google’s App line-up is popular in Europe and customers might decide to take a pass on Huawei’s products if they cannot access products like Gmail and YouTube. “Having those apps is critical for smartphone makers to stay competitive in regions like Europe,” said Geoff Blaber, CCS Insight’s vice president of research.
Short-term damage for Huawei?
Frankly speaking, this move could be significantly damaging for Huawei in the Western markets for the short term. Smartphone shoppers would not want an Android phone with no access to Google’s Play Store, its virtual assistant or security updates, assuming these are among the services that would be pulled.
In the longer term, though, this might give smartphone vendors, in general, a reason to seriously ponder upon the need for a viable alternative to Google’s operating system, that too at a time when the search giant is trying its luck to push its own Pixel smartphone brand at their expense.