On Wednesday, 15th of May, an executive order was issued by the President of the United States, Donald Trump. It restricted the U.S. based companies from supplying products to Huawei. Consequently, just four days later, Google reacted and revoked the license for all of its services from Huawei.
In a public 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. Huawei will only be able to use the public version of Android and will not be able to get access to proprietary apps and services from Google.”
What this means is that no newer version of Android or any Google service will be coming to any of the Huawei devices.
Most of the Huawei and Honor phones that have not been released will not even have access to Android at all, leaving Huawei without an operating system for their future phones (more on that later). However, most of the current operational Huawei devices will continue to receive security and Google services updates. This means that if you currently own a Huawei or Honor device, you do not need to worry about security updates or newer versions of Google Services.
However, Huawei got a double whammy later when Intel and Qualcomm also stopped supporting the company shortly after Google. While most people predict that this could mean the end of Huawei, the reality might not be that simple.
Huawei is one of the biggest smartphone manufacturers in the world. In fact, the Chinese company recently overtook Apple to take the 2nd spot on the biggest smartphone manufacturers chart. The company was also predicted to be on track for toppling Samsung off the top spot in a couple of years.
Huawei is not very big in the United States but it is absolutely gigantic when it comes to the global market. The company used to make telecommunication equipment before it jumped into the Smartphone industry. It shook the whole place up when it introduced some of the best in class cameras paired with an overall pretty solid package. Huawei also disrupted the whole mid range smartphone industry when it introduced its sub-brand, Honor which brought top-level specs at a mid range price level.
The whole problem with Huawei is not a new issue though. The company has been accused of being involved in malicious activities for years. These have been reported by security and intelligence agencies of a lot of countries including the US, Germany and the UK. The biggest accusation against Huawei has been that the company has ties to the Chinese government and its devices are used by the Chinese government to spy on people. There have been instances where a lot of Chinese companies have been caught sending private user data to the Chinese government. While there isn’t any definitive proof against Huawei, there is no smoke without fire and Huawei might not be as innocent as people think it is.
Should you trust Huawei?
There are no solid proofs against Huawei’s case, at least not yet. Many people have been debating that external forces and ulterior motives are involved with this ban. While many security agencies have raised concerns over Huawei’s connections with the Chinese government, experts claim that one of the biggest reasons for the blacklisting of Huawei is the fact that it was starting to give tough competition to American companies like Apple. Another area where Huawei might have been the industry leader is the race to 5G. A lot of people have suggested that Huawei’s lead in the 5G department was also a reason for this ban as a Chinese company having a better product would harm the American businesses. There is a trade war currently going on between the US and China and this argument would somewhat fit the bill.
On the other hand, one should refrain from using a device even if there are even slight suspicions of any foreign involvement. The Chinese government isn’t really known for its morals and is infamous for violating a lot of human rights. While it is true that Google, Facebook and other companies have been accused of misusing data too, there are still some filters in place. For example, people could protest against them or pass some law against them which would make them stop these practices since they are American companies. However, no such thing happens with the Chinese Government and there are no moral filters in place to check what it does. So, it would be better to be on the safe side rather than regretting the fact that you sold your data to the Chinese government later.
The Future of Huawei
Huawei has responded very strongly to the ban. The company’s CEO said that the ban will not affect them very much and will be just a mere dink in their massive empire. The company has already announced that they have a backup OS that will replace Android on their future devices. The OS has been in the works since 2012 so we can expect a certain level of quality and refinement from it. However, it would be almost impossible for a new operating system to penetrate the market considering that Android and iOS have been dominating it for over a decade. Many others like Windows and BlackBerry10 OS have tried to take on these two giants but haven’t succeeded. Huawei could still start from keeping it’s hold on the Chinese market and then expand slowly. It would definitely be an uphill climb though.
On the other hand, with Intel and Qualcomm stopping their supplies to Huawei as well, the company had to come up with their own solutions in that department as well. Intel supplies processors for Huawei’s laptops. Replacing that would not be very hard as they could just get AMD powered chips. On the other hand, Qualcomm does not really provide Huawei with much as far as I know. Huawei’s mobile phones already use their own In-house Hi-silicon chipsets. The only dependence would be on the 5G modems which Huawei is capable of manufacturing on its own as well. So, in the short term, Huawei probably has everything covered. The market share would still take a dip though with their devices no longer supporting Android. Furthermore, the whole situation has created a sense of uncertainty which has led to the decline in stock values of all the companies involved.
Should other Chinese manufacturers be afraid?
Now, since Huawei has been accused of spying and selling data, one has to think that any other Chinese company could get the same treatment as well. However, so far, no other company has even been slightly suspicious with how they deal with user data. Huawei has been in this mess for a long time and there obviously has to be a reason for that. So, for now, it does not seem like any other Chinese company can be red flagged any time soon.
Should you buy a Huawei device?
Now, the question then comes to mind is that, should a person even buy a Huawei phone anymore? Well, the short answer would be no. Even the current flagships like the P30 Pro are not going to receive Android Q. They will get security updates but is that enough? There are plenty of other very good options available in the market. Even if the ban gets lifted sometime later, the risk of Huawei not being able to deal with it is a risk that is not worth taking. So, you’d be better off trying out some other alternatives like Samsung, Xiaomi or OnePlus.
However, there is no doubt that Huawei makes some of the best smartphones in the whole industry. It would be an absolute shame to lose such a massive competitor to political agendas. If Huawei does manage to somehow come out of this unscathed, it would be pretty interesting to see how the overall landscape of the industry changes with a new OS and a very, very angry company coming to combat everyone else.