It was only about two months ago that Richard Yu, the CEO of Huawei’s consumer products division, was telling a German newspaper that the beleaguered Chinese smartphone brand had been prepping a mobile OS as a kind of Plan B if the company ever got cut off by Google from relying on Android.
He probably didn’t expect the turn of events to lead to that outcome so soon, but it appears that day may have nevertheless suddenly arrived. Google has reportedly moved to cut ties with Huawei, which means the company has just lost its Android license, and its devices will no longer receive Android updates — nor will its future handsets be able to access Google apps as well as the Google Play Store.
Reuters was the first on Sunday to report this significant development in the ongoing flap between Huawei and Western governments and companies fearful that the company is a proxy for China’s central government, as well as its national security apparatus. The report speculates this action by Google could “hobble” Huawei’s ascendant smartphone business — if true. That “if,” of course, being important to stress, because the report seems to rely on a single source familiar with the matter.
Huawei, that source told the news agency, “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.”
The news follows Thursday’s move by the Trump administration to add Huawei to a trade blacklist that immediately restricts its ability to do business with US companies. Google’s move doesn’t cut Huawei completely off from Android, as it will still have access to the version available through the Android Open Source Project, but the company as noted would lose some of the other benefits of a relationship with Google.
The US and Huawei have for months now been at odds in a standoff that stems from the US trade flap with China. The effects of that trade tension on Huawei itself have involved everything from the US pressuring allies to cut ties with Huawei to the unveiling of criminal charges against company officials.
Huawei has definitely been worried about this outcome for a while now. Huawei’s rotating chairman Eric Xu told Reuters back in March in a display of defiance against this possible turn of events that, “No matter what happens, the Android Community does not have any legal right to block any company from accessing its open-source license.”