War has been declared on Huawei
It’s the Reuters news agency that, on Sunday night, dropped the bomb. Google has suspended business relations with the Chinese giant Huawei. That’s it, the war is declared between Google and Huawei. Following a North American decree published last week, the first has simply decided to let go of the second.
The United States has banned telecommunications networks from using equipment provided by some foreign companies, including Chinese companies. In their line of sight: Huawei, but also ZTE. Others may follow, we still do not know.
What did Google say?
On Sunday, following the publication of an article from Reuters, Google confirmed that it would suspend its business relationship with Huawei. This Chinese company specializes in telecom equipment and smartphones. And they’re equipped, like the vast majority of smartphones around the world, with Android, Google’s mobile operating system.
Huawei was using a modified version of the software so far. Its users also had access to Google Play, a platform that allows users to download Google-approved apps to run on Android. It is unclear when this change will be exactly applied.
Holders of current Huawei smartphones with Google apps, however, will continue to be able to use and download app updates provided by Google, a Google spokesperson said, confirming earlier reporting by Reuters.
“We are complying with the order and reviewing the implications,” the Google spokesperson said.
Why does this American decision concern us?
One can legitimately wonder why the decision of the Trump administration concerns the rest of the world. The answer is quite simple: Google being in a US company, it complies with the legislation established on its territory. On the basis of this, the fact that Huawei is denied access to Google apps and APIs is worldwide (with the exception of China, which is in a particular case because it uses its own store and its own applications).
What will change for consumers?
According to Google, this change should affect Huawei phones, and therefore their users, in different ways. The biggest difference is that the new smartphones of the Chinese brand will no longer have access to Google Play. This is potentially a huge problem for Huawei. The company is now the second largest smartphone seller in the world, ahead of Apple and behind the South Korean Samsung.
However, Google Play is the leading mobile app store in the West, and often the only way for users to download their favorite services, such as Facebook, Instagram or YouTube. Huawei could compensate for this lack by installing its own app store. But still it will be necessary that its catalog is as rich as that of Google Play.
The US web giant has said that current owners of a Huawei smartphone will still have the right to use Google Play Store and will benefit from the usual security updates. Only future phones will be stripped from this advantage.
In addition, Huawei will no longer have the right to equip its future devices with its customized version of Android. It will only benefit from the “public” version of the software, accessible to all for free, and with far fewer options than the one currently used by the Chinese giant.
Finally, Google said future branded devices will no longer have access to its default services, most likely its YouTube video platform, maps of Google Maps or its search engine, which are extremely popular services on the Internet and the mobiles. For Huawei, the risk is that Western consumers decide, in the future, to opt for another brand in order to take advantage of all the services usually offered on Android smartphones.