U.S. Commerce Department scales back restrictions on Huawei

Andrew Cummings
May 21, 2019

If this trade ban between Huawei and other us companies is not lifted soon, the Chinese government might take a similar decision in retaliation.

Huawei's devices in China do not have Google apps, but the move could hugely damage the brand's appeal to consumers in other markets.

But while the ban on technology sharing is in place, Huawei will be required to manually access any updates or software patches from Android Open Source Project - the code accessible to all outside programmers - and also to distribute the updates to users itself.

Users that now own a Huawei smartphone will keep their Google access, so the Play store and updates should keep on rolling in.

"For users of our services, Google Play and the security protections from Google Play Protect will continue to function on existing Huawei devices", a Google spokesman said. But Reuters reports that Huawei won't be able to access updates to Android for its current phones.

Suffice to say the next few days will be interesting for Huawei and any news is likely to send shock waves through the mobile world on a global scale.

So how bad could this ban be for Huawei?

"We are complying with the order and reviewing the implications", a Google spokesperson told AFP.

Reuters reported Sunday that Alphabet Inc's Google suspended business with Huawei that requires the transfer of hardware, software and technical services except those publicly available via open source licensing, citing a source familiar with the matter. It became known later that the US Commerce Department blacklisted the Chinese telecom giant Huawei and 70 affiliates over alleged threat to national security.

He believes Google "will not come [out] of this unscathed" and noted that Huawei has its own operating system which it could adapt for the worldwide market. One caveat: it's conceivable that Huawei already has licencing deals in place for the Mate 30 range and the Mate X to run an official version of Android, in which case those devices will at least ship with Android 9 Pie, but it's not known whether those deals are in place and, if so, whether they will be affected by the United States government's ruling.

On Thursday, the U.S. Commerce Department added Huawei and 68 entities to an export blacklist that makes it almost impossible for the Chinese company to purchase goods made in the United States. Last year, Huawei sold almost half of its production of 208 million smart phones overseas and the rest in China.

Huawei's European business, its second biggest market, could be hit as Huawei licences these services from Google in Europe. The Chinese company has stated that it will continue servicing smartphones across the globe.

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