Facebook is the latest US-based company to limit Huawei’s ability to use its services after Google did so last month. Reuters reports that the social media giant will no longer allow the Chinese manufacturer to pre-install its apps on future smartphones. In addition to the Facebook app, that means Huawei handsets will no longer come with Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp or Instagram pre-installed.
The move won’t affect existing Huawei smartphones, so if you’ve got one you’ll still be able to use Facebook’s apps and you’ll get updates for those apps, but it’s a serious blow to Huawei’s prospects of selling its (highly anticipated) next generation smartphones outside of China (where it already makes do without big-name apps for US companies like Facebook, Google and company).
After the news of Google’s restrictions broke Huawei received a 90-day reprieve from the US, but that expires in mid-August, after which it’s unclear whether existing Huawei devices will be able to get future versions of the Android operating system. As it stands, Huawei’s future smartphones won’t have access to Google’s apps like Gmail, Maps and Docs after the August deadline expires, unless the US government relaxes its restrictions, that is.
Huawei’s previously said it’s been working on its own operating systems for phones and laptops in case of such an eventuality, but even if it can convince developers of big-name apps to provide their applications to the company, getting consumers to commit is going to be a tough sell… especially those who rely on Google’s services. Sure, it’ll still be possible to use Gmail and the like via a smartphone’s web browser, but few consumers are likely to be willing to.
Given Facebook’s ongoing disregard for its users’ privacy, its plans to stick advertising in WhatsApp and its concerted efforts to expunge all of the things that made Instagram appealing from it, we’d argue that Huawei phones not getting the company’s apps could be construed as a selling point. Sadly for Huawei, though, we fear most consumers will disagree.