Some pretty remarkable news breaking at the moment. Google has announced that the US company will suspend some business with the Chinese smartphone manufacturer Huawei. The immediate impact for consumers will be Huawei’s Android phones no longer having access to the latest Android updates. Down the road, further impacts will include new Huawei phones, including the Mate 30, Mate 30 Pro and Mate X folding phone, will not have access to popular Google apps such as the Google Play Store and Gmail.
While it all sounds pretty dramatic, this could be a storm in a teacup. Then again, it could be massive. The joy of something unprecedented.
Trump Bans Huawei
Last Thursday, U.S. President, Donald Trump, added Huawei to a trading blacklist. What this basically means is Huawei can no longer buy or sell technology into the United States. Directly, this has limited consequences for consumers. For manufacturers like chip company Qualcomm, it was a much bigger deal. Huawei is a considerable buyer for Qualcomm and news immediately hit Qualcomm’s share price as Trump’s ban means they can no longer sell to Huawei.
Huawei themselves tweeted describing the situation as “lose lose” for everyone, but direct impact on consumers is limited.
— Huawei Facts (@HuaweiFacts) May 18, 2019
Huawei has never seen the United States as an important retail space. They have already removed Apple as the world’s second biggest smartphone manufacturer behind Samsung without a supported phone network in the U.S. For Irish consumers, this would have had an even smaller impact. For example, relations between Huawei and the European Union are pretty good, far from the paranoia over the Chinese smartphone manufacturer being seen in the U.S. Another important thing to note is that this could all be very shortlived as President Trump and China’s top leader, Xi Jinping, are scheduled to meet next month in an effort to cool the ongoing trade between the United States and China.
With that said, today’s news from Google’s parent company, Alphabet, is a much bigger headline for Huawei and Irish consumers.
Google Suspending Huawei’s Android License
The news breaking today is very interesting. I won’t lie, I have a vested interested in this as I’m currently testing the P30 and P30 Pro. Already I feel like I’m looking at the two best Android phones on the market in 2019. Naturally, news that Google is moving to suspend Huawei’s Android licence pricked my ears a little.
Trump’s ban could have a massive impact on any chances Huawei had to enter The U.S. market, but it would make little difference to the P30 Pro in my pocket. Google’s news, on the other hand, would appear to have a much larger impact.
With Google suspending Huawei’s Android licence, Huawei smartphones immediately lose access to the latest Android updates. This also means that the next range of Huawei phones outside of China will lose access to the Google Play Store, Gmail and YouTube. Whether or not this will include the P30 Lite remains unclear, but it almost certainly will impact the Mate X folding phone, set for a mid-year launch, and the next Mate range due to launch around October later this year.
That is assuming all of this isn’t a gigantic game of chess with the reputation of the U.S. and Huawei being pitted against each other.
What Does This Mean For You – The Consumer?
Right now, the biggest unknown is the real world implications for Irish people who own Huawei phones. First and foremost, right now there’s no impact. Your phone will continue to operate as normal, you still have access to Google services like Gmail, the Play Store and YouTube.
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
Huawei will retain access to the open source version of Android, so it’s likely the Chinese manufacturer will start customising this to suit their needs. OnePlus is already doing this through their massively popular OxygenOS.
The longer-term consequences do seem to be a little greyer right now.
Potentially, this could see Huawei develop their own operating system altogether. Last year, they already moved their smartwatches over to LiteOS. Moving to a new smartphone OS would be a much bigger move. I’m sweating at the thought of the compatibility issues to be honest, so fingers crossed the much more likely outcome prevails here.
And that is this all blows over. It feels like all of this is two countries with their chests puffed out circling each other much to the detriment of Huawei. I’ll admit that I’m hopeful of this outcome because I quite like Huawei phones. I can see this one playing out in the news over the coming weeks and months, and we’ll be covering every angle of it so be sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
Update: Huawei has released an official response.