Google Cuts Off Huawei’s Android License; Huawei Faces US Trade Sanctions as a National Security Threat
by Samra Anees and Jim Lundy
In response to the recent blacklisting of Huawei by the US Federal Government, Google has revoked Huawei’s Android license. This will be a severe blow for Huawei as it will affect its presence in the market, and force the tech giant to develop its own operating system to rival the Android Google ecosystem. While the issue was ordered on Monday, May 20th, the US Federal Government has delayed the implementation of the order for 90 days.
This blog explores the reasons behind and the implications of both Google’s Android ban on Huawei and the lack of access to other US-based technology, and the short and long term implications.
Google Canceled Huawei’s Android Business Licence in Compliance with the US Federal Government
In response to an executive order that restricts companies from supplying products to Huawei, Google is suspending business with Huawei that involves hardware or software transfer that is not covered by open source licenses. The US Commerce Department also placed Huawei on the Bureau of Industry and Securities Entity List, which is a list of companies that cannot buy US technology unless approved by the government. This order against Huawei arose in response to concerns that Huawei could use its devices for espionage on the US—which has proved to be a problem in the past with some of its phone equipment.
Huawei is Working On Its Own “Plan B” Mobile Operating System
Although Huawei had taken precautions and began working on its own operating system some time back, it had hoped not to have to use it and claimed that it was just a “Plan B”. Now that it is left with no choice, Huawei needs to offer a mobile operating system that can mimic the Android and Google ecosystem that its users are accustomed to.
However, with no access to Google Commercial Android, that means no Youtube, no Google Maps, and no access to thousands of apps on the Google Play Store. While not as big of an issue in China, for the rest of the world, this puts significant pressure on Huawei to be able to offer a competitive product—no matter how good the hardware features are.
Short and Long Term Implications for Huawei
There are many implications of Google revoking Huawei’s Android license; some short term and others that will emerge in the long term.
The most immediate effect of Huawei’s blacklisting is that Huawei is no longer going to have Android operating systems and is now restricted to the Android Open Source Project (AOSP). This means that current Huawei phone users can still use their Android operating system, but will not be able to access Android updates after August of this year. Huawei could potentially try to leverage the AOSP to build its own operating system, but it would not be able to host Google’s applications regardless. Future Huawei phones will not be able to access the Google Play store and other Google apps such as Gmail. Huawei’s mobile business at risk, to say the least.
Longer Term Implications—Mobile and Laptop
Not only will losing Google and Android hit Huawei hard in the market, but Huawei will have to convince buyers that its alternative operating system is viable. Huawei has been working on this for a while and buyers need to realize that Android is 12 years old; saying you have an alternative mobile OS that can replace that is easier said than done.
For laptops, Huawei will be without a chipset since they are currently using Intel and Qualcomm chips for computers. This would essentially put them out of the PC business for a while.
Will China Strike Back?
The damage this ban will do to Huawei in the market could also prompt China to strike back at US companies, such as Apple, which has a large customer base in China. Besides Tariffs, China could make it harder for Apple to continue to make its phones in China if it wanted to play hardball. To us, this suggests that Apple may want to have alternative manufacturing capabilities outside of China.
Huawei is one of the largest smartphone providers, second only to Samsung and even bigger than Apple. Blacklisting Huawei will undoubtedly affect its presence in the market; we will have to wait to see the full implications of the US’s trade war with tech giant Huawei.