Google has suspended business with Huawei that requires the transfer of hardware, software and technical services except those publicly available via open source licensing.
This means that Huawei smartphones will lose access to updates to Google’s Android operating system. Future versions of Huawei smartphones that run on Android will also lose access to popular services, including the Google Play Store and Gmail and YouTube apps. Existing Huawei phones will not be affected, according to a Google spokesperson.
Details of the specific services affected by the suspension were still being discussed internally at Google, according to the spokesperson. Huawei attorneys are also studying the impact of the blacklist, a Huawei spokesperson said.
Huawei will still be able to use Android, but only the public version under the Android Open Source Project (AOSP). Google will stop providing any technical support and collaboration for Android and Google services to Huawei going forward.
The impact is expected to be minimal in the Chinese market. Most Google mobile apps are banned in China, where alternatives are offered by domestic competitors such as Tencent and Baidu. Google’s move will however affect Huawei’s market share in Europe – it’s biggest outside China.
The restrictions being placed on Huawei’s access to the Android operating system will cast a long shadow over the launch of Huawei’s latest handsets on 21 May, including the much awaited Honor 20 series. It is understood that these smartphones will still be able to use Google services, but future models may be subject to Google’s suspension.
A previous US ban on Chinese telecoms equipment maker ZTE from using American products and services served as a reality check for China’s technology firms, with Huawei in particular creating a backup plan in case of such a contingency.
He Tingbo, president of HiSilicon, a semiconductor company owned by Huawei, said it has been preparing for this scenario for a very long time. He said the company has a backup plan because it assumed the need to survive years ago.
“One day, if advanced chipsets and technologies from the US will not be available, Huawei will be able to continue serving its customers,” he told the Global Times.
Huawei has also confirmed its development of a proprietary operating system (OS) for both smartphones and computers, which can be used on its devices in the event that current systems provided by US technology giants are no longer available.