After the US government blacklisted Huawei last week, Google is reportedly shattering all business ties with the Chinese companies. Importantly, Google will block Huawei devices from using Google services, especially Google Play Store and Play Services.
Huawei is at the centre of a serious US trade war with China. Yet, beyond trade, the Trump administration believes Huawei is a National Security threat, claiming the company helps the Chinese government with espionage activities. There are even allegations that Huawei devices contain backdoors designed to aid Chinese spying.
The move by Google follows a presidential order placing Huawei on an export blacklist. Effectively, Huawei will not be able to order for US hardware with the approval of the White House.
Initially it was unclear how this move would affect Huawei’s reliance on Google services and Microsoft services. But Google made its stance firmly known last Friday.
Reuters’ sources say Google has suspended transactions with Huawei that require transferring proprietary hardware and software. This means Huawei devices will lose access to important services like Google Play Store, Google Services, OS updates, and security patches.
Apps such as Chrome and Gmail will also be blocked on Huawei devices.
However Google says the ban would be more effective on future Huawei devices than existing ones. In other words, Play Store and security from Google Play Protect will continue working on existing Huawei devices.
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
Another report by Engadget says Play services and app updates will continue since they don’t require “Google interacts with Huawei”.
Regardless though, the news is a huge blow to Huawei’s business. Riding on the back of the open Android OS, Huawei has risen to become one of the biggest phone makers in the world. The company is now the third biggest smartphone maker, only behind Samsung and Apple. But the Google ban means it could lose its place.
What could Huawei do to offset the ban?
The most important would be to rely on the Android OS, but develop alternatives to Google services. Google services are an add-on feature to the open source Android OS. While manufacturers could simply use the Android OS for free and develop every feature they need, many choose to include Google Services on their devices. This effectively costs them money, but it allows the access to Google’s essential features.
With Huawei now blocked from using Google Services, it would need to develop solid alternatives.
The company already announced in March that it has developed alternative OS to replace Android and Windows on its devices. Now, we would see what they churn out.
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