Last year it was the big telecom news: Trump banned American companies from trading with the Huawei brand. The Americans are not keen on the Chinese brand, partly due to all the reports about espionage and possible interference from Chinese politics. How is the relationship between Huawei and Google now?
It all went smoothly for Huawei. In 2018 and 2019, the company grew tremendously, thanks in part to the successful launches of their P20 Pro, P30 Pro and Mate 20 Pro phones. The company had fought its way to an impressive runner-up position in the smartphone market and was making plans to be number one. Now, however, even a third place seems further away than ever. Something that is due to American politics.
Trump vs China
First, Huawei's Chief Financial Officer was arrested in Canada on suspicion of violating US regulations in Iran. The Mate 10 Pro was also banned from various American providers and the United States is very much on Huawei when it comes to 5G: the Trump administration is pleased with it but nothing that the Chinese company, which is often accused of spying, has a big finger in the pie. when it comes to 5G technology.
Now, despite the above hurdles, Huawei could still run fast in the race to become the number 1 smartphone brand in the world, but this year, a US rule followed in May that affects Huawei phones around the world. The trade ban. In other words: American companies are prohibited from doing business with Huawei. Why that affects us too and not just America is that Google is an American company. Huawei runs on Android and would like to use Google's app store, Google Play. This is no longer possible due to this trade ban: Google has had to revoke the license to use Android. Chip manufacturers such as Intel and Qualcomm also no longer supply Huawei.
If you already had a Huawei phone before the ban, you won't notice much of a difference, but there is of course a reason that the launch of the new Mate 30 announced in September was not nearly as flawless as previous launches. The device is still not officially out in the Netherlands. Google can provide the phone with security updates, but it is no longer possible to upgrade the operating system. Also, Huawei phones that now come off the assembly line no longer have access to commonly used Google apps such as Maps, Assistant, Gmail and therefore that Play app store.
Trade ban for Huawei
Now, of course, Huawei has not given up, because it still wants to sell phones. It has created its own operating system on this. Harmony OS is. You can use the Huawei app store, but it is not nearly as extensive as that of Google. However, there is no alternative to Huawei: Apple iOS is only for Apple phones and there is nothing quite as big and as widely used and established as Google. It ensures that people are not so quick to buy a new phone from Huawei, because the future of the operating system is uncertain.
Huawei sees that and has therefore devised a clever idea. It reissues old models. For example, it puts some new cameras on it or changes its appearance slightly, and it does not require new permission to use Google services. As long as certain established things remain the same, Huawei can still release phones with Android as the operating system in this way, including Google Maps, Assistant, Gmail, and so on. However, it does stand in the way of innovation, which makes it not a good option at least for the long term.
Logical, because at Huawei everyone assumed that the trade ban would not last that long, but Huawei is still on the Entity List, which says that American companies are not allowed to share hardware or software with the company in any case. Huawei, which it has already started, may have to cooperate even more with other companies for parts. Or it may need to see if it can build a strong operating system of its own with other foreign phone companies, including the app ecosystem as we know it from Google.
In short, the consequences of the ban are disastrous for Huawei, which in many areas now suddenly has to reinvent the wheel itself. This does not only apply to smartphones: Huawei is still working on 5G and other network equipment, but it also makes laptops that use parts from American suppliers. Huawei is therefore briefly taken aback, although it wants to insist in all sorts of ways that it does not let itself be discouraged. However, it needs time to see how to proceed. In 2020 we will see how Huawei tackles this. And, more importantly, how consumers react to this.