Google has decided to suspend business operations with Huawei effective immediately, which is going to include the world’s second largest smartphone maker’s access to and use of the Android mobile operating system. The move is a response to the Trump administration’s de facto ban on all things Huawei. And it’s not just America where the ban will apply, meaning Huawei devices across the globe are going to be affected.
According to Reuters, Google was forced into suspending business with the Chinese electronics giant for anything that concerns “the transfer of hardware and software products”. Which is… basically the whole Android ecosystem. Google will halt future updates, the use of Google Play Store, Gmail, YouTube and Google Play Protect. Huawei won’t have access to proprietary apps or Google-based services either (like Google Docs, Sheets and the like).
Google’s drastic actions come after the US Commerce Department’s announced that it has placed Huawei and some 68 affiliates on a so-called ‘Entity List’, or trade blacklist, following an executive order signed by US President Donald Trump.
Existing devices should be okay
“For users of our services, Google Play and the security protections from Google Play Protect will continue to function on existing Huawei devices,” a person close to the matter told Reuters.
Google says that it’s busy reviewing the orders from government and will comply with said orders. This means that while current Huawei owners might have access to the services for time being, they could eventually become inaccessible. A bigger problem for Huawei is that its new devices won’t have access to Google services.
The Android Twitter account offered some reassurance to those consumers who currently own Huawei handsets. As seen below, the company states that current Huawei (and likely Honor) phones will continue to have access to services like Google Play and security from Google Play Protect.
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.
— Android (@Android) May 20, 2019
But it doesn’t look good for new ones
Huawei has been dominating the South African market in recent years, which means that a large number of South Africans currently have Huawei and Honor devices. While Google’s move might not affect them, it’s certainly going to affect consumer’s future purchasing decisions, which will inevitably adversely affect the Chinese company’s sales across the world. Except, perhaps, for China of course, where Google services aren’t allowed at all anyway.
Huawei is also effectively forbidden from buying parts and components from US companies without US government approval – which includes Android.
We know that Huawei has developed its own proprietary operating systems as a ‘plan B’ for exactly a case like this. The company has been working on its own OS since 2012, but has left off implementing it as the company prefers using Android for its mobile devices, and Windows for its laptops.
The question is, should it be forced to move to a proprietary OS, will Huawei able to offer both the same calibre of user experience and the same depth of app catalogue as it can on Android? And if it can, will users still flock to buy its hardware as they’ve done to date? We’re going to have to wait and see.