Huawei users could soon be blocked from updating the apps on their phones after Google restricted the company’s use of the Android operating system.
Google parent company, Alphabet, suspended its dealings with the Chinese mobile phone manufacturer in instances where the transfer of “hardware, software and technical services” is involved (excluding those which are already open source), according to Reuters.
The decision was made after the manufacturer’s addition to the US Commerce Department’s “Entity List” – effectively a blacklist forcing businesses to get a specially issued licence to do business with Huawei.
What a ban means
Huawei has steadily grown its share of the Australian market from 0.84 per cent of mobile phones in January 2015 to roughly 6.5 per cent in April 2019, but Dr Alice de Jonge – a Monash business school senior lecturer whose research focuses on Asian corporate governance – told The New Daily that Donald Trump’s recent move will likely curb that growth.
Without access to the Android platform, Dr de Jonge said, new phones will have to rely on open-source versions of the operating system and many of the programs and services provided by Google – such as Gmail and YouTube – will not be available.
Users with existing Huawei devices will still have access to all the apps and programs they’ve already installed on their devices, and a Google spokesperson confirmed to Reuters that these will still receive updates.
The ban could also hit other technology companies which source their parts from the Chinese manufacturer, potentially causing supply chain problems or pushing up the price of other, seemingly unrelated brands.
Updates and servicing to continue
A Huawei spokesperson told The New Daily the company has been one of Android’s “key global partners” and will “continue to provide security updates and after sales services” to all Huawei phones and tablets.
“Huawei has made substantial contributions to the development and growth of Android around the world. We have worked closely with their open-source platform to develop an ecosystem that has benefitted both users and the industry,” the spokesperson said.
“We will continue to build a safe and sustainable software ecosystem, in order to provide the best experience for all users globally.”
China-US tensions intensify
The blacklisting of Huawei by the US Commerce Department coincided with US President Donald Trump signing a new executive order restricting US citizens and businesses from doing business with companies in cases where certain foreign countries “or national thereof” has an interest in the transaction.
In the executive order, Mr Trump cautioned that “foreign adversaries are increasingly creating and exploiting vulnerabilities in information and communications technology and services”, and tighter restrictions need to be put in place to protect the “vast amounts of sensitive information” stored and transferred through digital mediums.
“Although maintaining an open investment climate in information and communications technology, and in the United States economy more generally, is important for the overall growth and prosperity of the United States, such openness must be balanced by the need to protect our country against critical national security threats,” Mr Trump said.
While not restricted to Chinese businesses, Dr de Jonge said the passing of that executive order will weigh on Huawei and reflected the USA’s ongoing opposition to the company.
Mr Trump has already banned the mobile phone provider accessing the US 5G network – a policy position which Australia adopted not long after – and was an “unsurprising” development in the ongoing conflict between the two nations.
Last year, Huawei was also banned in New Zealand from supplying parts to Spark Telecom’s 5G network, while the UK and Canada – which form the Five Eyes security alliance in partnership with Australia, New Zealand, and the US – are yet to make a decision on the phone manufacturer’s future within their telecoms space.