The second largest smartphone manufacturer in the world has been barred by Google, potentially leaving millions of consumers with applications that will no longer update.
The move follows growing concerns over privacy and security, particularly around surveillance, allegations that Huawei has strongly denied. Most recently, Trump’s administration has also blacklisted the manufacturing giant, limiting many US brands from undertaking any further business with the company.
For existing customers, Huawei devices will no longer receive security updates and technical support, with the eventual loss of access to leading Google applications including YouTube, Google Mail and Maps.
For future Huawei smartphones, Google’s Mobile Services (GMS) will no longer be pre-installed across devices, although some services may still be accessible via the web – albeit less conveniently. Access to Google Play will also be closed down, meaning Huawei will need to work directly with developers to adapt popular apps to function correctly on its devices. This will be time-consuming and expensive, and something which has failed previously when Nokia and Microsoft’s attempted to make the Windows Phone a competitor to iOS and Android.
Whilst this is a moving story and the future at this point is unknown, Huawei has now released a statement to reassure its customers that support will be maintained, “Huawei will continue to provide security updates and after-sales services to all existing Huawei and Honor smartphone and tablet products, covering those that have been sold and that are still in stock globally”, although for how long, we are unsure.
With an ambition to overtake Samsung and become the bestselling smartphone brand by 2020, Huawei is likely to take an immediate hit, with smartphone users potentially discouraged by a new device lacking access to Google’s core services. Whilst the longer-term future at this point is unknown, Huawei has previously hinted to the press it has prepared its own operating system, although reports on this are yet to be confirmed.
The restrictions over Huawei’s access to Android operating systems will no doubt overshadow Tuesday’s launch of the Honor 20 Series (although sources report that the device will still offer the full Android experience at the time of launch.)
UPDATE 22.05 – Reports have confirmed that Google has temporarily held its suspension of Android services across Huawei smartphone devices. The update comes as President Trump has allowed a 90-days reprieve, granting Huawei a short-term licence to support its existing customers. This will allow Google to provide software updates and security patches up until 19th August 2019.
After thousands of Huawei customers were left concerned and unsure about what the future holds for their mobile phones, Huawei has begun to reassure its users that a new operating system may be on the way. Whilst the Huawei App Gallery has been available across Huawei devices for years, the Chinese tech giant has reportedly been quietly holding discussions with operators and app developers across Europe more recently, in a bid to create its own pre-installed app store across all future devices.
Whilst this may soften the blow for some, the success of a potential new app store will largely be down to the applications it can carry. It is unclear at this time which companies (and applications) will want to be involved.