Chinese smartphone maker Huawei won’t be able to use future versions of Android, after being barred by Google following an executive order signed by President Trump. Last week, the White House added Huawei, the second biggest smartphone maker, to its Entity List.
“This action by the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security, with the support of the President of the United States, places Huawei, a Chinese owned company that is the largest telecommunications equipment producer in the world, on the Entity List," Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said in a statement.
"This will prevent American technology from being used by foreign-owned entities in ways that potentially undermine U.S. national security or foreign policy interests.”
This means US companies, such as Google, cannot trade with Huawei (or any company on the list) without a special license.
The move is partly motived by security concerns in the US, and several other countries, that Huawei equipment could be used by the Chinese government for surveillance – something that the company has denied. This is also an escalation of Trump’s trade war with China. It is believed that this war will cost $770 in extra charges to the average US family this year, which could balloon to $2,300 a year if Trump pushes for a 25 percent tariff on all goods from China, as he has claimed he will several times.
For Huawei customers, there are no dramatic changes happening immediately. After an initial backlash that saw shares of Google and other technology companies drop on Wall Street, the White House has temporarily delayed the ban, giving the company 90 days to allow it to maintain its network and support existing customers. Huawei has confirmed it will continue to provide app updates and aftercare services, you will still be able to get security fixes on the mobile OS, and access to Google Play services – for the moment.
Things will change with the next OS update, however. Android Q is due to be released in August. The core operating system is open source so it will continue to work but certain features and some apps like Google Maps, Gmail, and YouTube might no longer be available.
Trump’s blacklisting of Huawei will have an impact on other tech companies who sell components to the Chinese manufacturer, such as Intel and Xilinx. It will likely have implications beyond the US, too, as Huawei phones are popular worldwide and not being able to improve the base software is going to be a huge problem for the company's customer base.
Samsung is the largest smartphone maker in the world with over 22 percent of the market share, but Huawei has been steadily increasing over the last 18 months, even surpassing Apple and its iPhones.
As this new rule means that in the future Huawei's phones will not be supported by Google, the company is rumored to be shifting to its own operating system, something that has been previously been referred to as plan B, but which may now come to the fore.
[H/T: BBC News]