Huawei Ban – What does it mean for Customers and Developers?

June 10, 2019

An executive order was signed in the US barring companies in the US from doing business with Huawei. We offer some insight into some of the repercussions of this in the smartphone industry.

The ban is a result of Huawei being placed on a list of companies that the US government has banned US companies from doing business with. This is because of Huawei’s suspected links to the Chinese state, and a suspicion that Huawei has built backdoors into its products and services that could allow China to spy on the US and other foreign powers. No concrete evidence of this is available as yet, and many experts suspect this ban could be an attempt by the US government to protect US companies like Apple from Chinese competitors.

Given the widespread use of Hauawei devices on the Android OS, this could have a huge impact on not only Huawei but also Google, Android and the entire smartphone industry. Google has assured users that they will provide Android updates for 90 days to comply with the order, but if they pull Huawei’s license to use Android Huawei will be unable to use the Google Play Store, and its applications such as Gmail, Maps, YouTube, Photos etc.

Customers with current devices (Such as the Huawei P30) will still continue to get security updates from Google for the foreseeable future, and this also covers devices already sold and in stock worldwide.

Huawei has some options going forward but they would be very challenging for the company:

  • Remove all elements of Google in its EMUI Framework (The operating system Huawei has developed based on Android that it uses on most of its smartphone devices)
  • Partner with a third party app store (Other than the Google Play Store)
  • Build a new mobile OS not based on Android

Huawei could create the first competitor to Android (Given its size as the second largest phone maker after Samsung), which could create a big impact on Google’s dominance on the smartphone ecosystem. This could also create more complexity for mobile developers if a new operating system needs to be considered  for development in addition to Android and iOS.

The new OS may be a fork of the core Android OS, as it is covered by the Android Open Source project and free for use, and based on Amazon Kindle Fire’s popularity and success, it is entirely possible given Huawei’s millions of fans around the world and tremendous growth in the smartphone market.

Huawei’s CEO of consumer business Yu Chengdong stated that the Chinese smartphone giant could release a new operating system as early as October 2019, or latest second quarter of 2020, however it is seriously doubtful if it would be as polished as the Android operating system and with the exclusion of Google’s apps it could be at a serious disadvantage for customers who rely on Google apps such as Maps, and Gmail.

Update: But there is some light at the end of the tunnel – Trump has recently stated that future trade deals with China could include the Chinese company, which could avert the entire crisis, but this would be based on future trade negotiations with China. Experts say that this is a very real possibility, and Huawei has a very good chance of having the ban lifted.

 

 

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