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Huawei barred from Android OS as US-China trade war escalates

Paul Lipscombe
May 20, 2019

The US has accused Huawei since 2012 of posing a “security threat”

Huawei has been barred from using Google’s Android operating system following recent US sanctions against Chinese firms.

The latest blow for Huawei comes after US President Donald Trump’s added Huawei to a list of companies that American businesses cannot trade with unless they have a license.

The ban means Huawei smartphones won’t be able to access the most recent Android security updates and lose some Google apps.

Huawei shipped 59.1 million smartphones in the first quarter of this year and have moved to reassure Huawei and sub-brand Honor users, that it will continue to provide after-sales services.

In a statement a Huawei spokesperson said: “Huawei has made substantial contributions to the development and growth of Android around the world. As one of Android’s key global partners, we have worked closely with their open-source platform to develop an ecosystem that has benefitted both users and the industry.

“Huawei will continue to provide security updates and after sales services to all existing Huawei and Honor smartphone and tablet products covering those which have been sold or are still in stock globally. We will continue to build a safe and sustainable software ecosystem, in order to provide the best experience for all users globally.”

Existing Huawei devices will remain unaffected but with Google expected to launch the next version of Android later this year, it is unclear if these devices will receive the same updates.

However Android confirmed via its Twitter that services such as Google Play and Google Play Protect will continue to function as before on existing Huawei devices.

In a statement Google said: “We are complying with the order and reviewing the implications. For users of our services, Google Play and the security protections from Google Play Protect will continue to function on existing Huawei devices.”

“Considerable implications”

CCS Insight chief of research Ben Wood expects the disruption to have “considerable implications” for Huawei’s device business but says current users shouldn’t be concerned.

“People who currently own Huawei smartphones do not need to worry. At present any measures would only affect future devices and future updates.

“However, until we have a clear understanding of what exact measures Google has decided to take it is impossible to second guess the impact on future devices.”

With uncertainty around using Google’s Android OS for Huawei, Wood says the chances of Huawei using its own OS is now likely.

“Last year, CCS Insight predicted that tensions between the China and the US would present a strong incentive for Chinese companies to create their own operating system for smart devices. Given recent developments that seems more likely than ever.”

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