Google has terminated Huawei’s access to the Google ecosystem, including Android, according to a report from Reuters. This development puts millions of Huawei devices at risk and endangers the sales of future smartphone releases from the Chinese company.
Citing a source familiar with Google, the American tech giant has “suspended business with Huawei that requires the transfer of hardware, software and technical services except those publicly available via open source licensing.”
Google’s actions come on the heels of an announcement by the U.S. Department of Commerce that added Huawei and its affiliates to the “Entity List,” a list of companies that are “engaged in activities that are contrary to U.S. national security or foreign policy interest.” President Donald Trump signed last week an executive order banning and blacklisting foreign companies that constitute “an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States.”
The report further stated that Huawei will lose access to Android updates, and the next versions of Huawei smartphones sold outside China will also lose access to Google applications and services such as Google Play, Gmail and YouTube.
This means that future smartphone releases from Huawei can still use Android but will no longer be able to install apps from Google Play or use Google’s proprietary services such as Gmail, YouTube and Maps. Existing smartphones, such as the Huawei P30, P30 Pro and Mate 20 Pro, will still continue to have access to Google apps and services but will no longer receive future updates for Android.
“For Huawei users’ questions regarding our steps to comply with the recent US government actions: We assure you while we are complying with all US government requirements, services like Google Play and security from Google Play Protect will keep functioning on your existing Huawei device,” Google announced on its Android Twitter account.
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
If Google continues to deny Huawei access to Android and proprietary services, it would be a big blow to the Chinese company’s smartphone business. Huawei has surpassed Apple as the second largest smartphone brand in terms of market share, and has lofty ambitions to become the leading smartphone brand by 2020. Losing access to Google services would cripple Huawei’s smartphone sales outside China, considering that Android has a 75% share of the worldwide mobile OS market.
Should Huawei Smartphone Users Be Worried?
While Google’s suspension of Huawei’s access to Android and Google services should be cause for concern, existing users of Huawei smartphones should rest easy knowing that their devices won’t be largely affected, at least in the short term.
Existing Huawei smartphones will still be able to use Android and download and install apps from Google Play, as well as use Google applications and services like Gmail, YouTube, Maps and Search. Google Play Protect, which scans all apps for malware before installation, will continue to work as usual.
The main difference is that existing Huawei smartphones will no longer receive vital updates for Android, which puts the security of these devices at risk.
It’s still early days, though, and anything could still happen. It’s entirely possible that Google and Huawei (as well as the U.S. government) could meet at the negotiating table and sort out their differences. Both companies could still agree on a compromise and the U.S. government might agree on concessions from Huawei, just like in the case of ZTE which agreed to a settlement with the Trump administration after sanctions were imposed.
It could also be likely that Google’s ban will last for several months which would have severe implications on Huawei’s smartphone sales. In that scenario, Huawei could be forced to deploy its own mobile operating system, which is, although inferior to Android, still better than nothing.
Huawei smartphone users should hold on to their smartphones and wait for further announcements from Google and Huawei. It’s still possible that a settlement could be reached in the next few days.
We have reached out to Huawei for comment and have yet to receive a response, so stay tuned.