25 | JUN | 2019
Google restricts Huawei's access to android systems
A Huawei smartphone is seen in front of displayed Google Play logo - Illustration: Dado Ruvic/REUTERS

Google restricts Huawei's access to android systems

21/05/2019
15:22
Reuters
Mexico City
Angela Moon
-A +A
The suspension could hobble Huawei’s smartphone business outside China as the tech giant will immediately lose access to updates to Google’s Android operating system

Alphabet Inc’s Google has suspended business with Huawei that requires the transfer of hardware, software, and technical services except those publicly available via open source licensing, in a blow to the Chinese technology company that the U.S. government has sought to blacklist around the world.

Holders of current Huawei smartphones with Google apps, however, will continue to be able to use and download app updates provided by Google.

The suspension could hobble Huawei’s smartphone business outside China as the tech giant will immediately lose access to updates to Google’s Android operating system. Future versions of Huawei smartphones that run on Android will also lose access to popular services, including the Google Play StoreGmail, and YouTube apps.

The Trump administration added Huawei Technologies Co Ltd to a trade blacklist, immediately enacting restrictions that will make it extremely difficult for the company to do business with U.S. counterparts.

Huawei will continue to have access to the version of the Android operating system available through the open source license, known as Android Open Source Project (AOSP), that is available for free to anyone who wishes to use it. There are about 2.5 billion active Android devices worldwide, according to Google.

Huawei has said it has spent the last few years preparing a contingency plan by developing its own technology in case it is blocked from using Android. Some of this technology is already being used in products sold in China, the company has said.

Popular Google apps such as Gmail, YouTube, and the Chrome browser that are available through Google’s Play Store will disappear from future Huawei handsets as those services are not covered by the open source license and require a commercial agreement with Google.

But users of existing Huawei devices who have access to the Google Play Store will still be able to download app updates provided by Google. Apps such as Gmail are updated through the store, unlike operating system updates which are typically handled by phone manufacturers and telecoms carriers, which the blacklist could affect.

The impact is expected to be minimal in the Chinese market. Most Google mobile apps are banned in China, where alternatives are offered by domestic competitors such as Tencent and Baidu.

Huawei’s European business, its second-biggest market, could be hit as Huawei licenses these services from Google in Europe.

sg

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