Google cuts off Huawei’s Android hardware and software licence

20 May 2019

The latest P30 flagship device. Image: Huawei

Massive blow for Huawei as US crackdown on Chinese tech firms escalates.

Alphabet’s Google has confirmed that it will cease allowing Huawei to use its version of Android, instead requiring the Chinese tech and telecoms giant to rely on the Android Open Source Project.

Users of current the Chinese company’s smartphones will continue to be able to use and download app updates from Google.

In a huge blow to the besieged company, Huawei is being impacted following the US Commerce Department’s recent decision to place it on the “Entity List” of companies that are unable to buy technology from US companies without government approval.

This means that Google has suspended business with Huawei that requires the transfer of hardware, software and technical services, except those publicly available by open source licensing.

“We are complying with the order and reviewing the implications,” a Google spokesperson said.

Tech block

The ban includes technology sharing and could have dramatic implications for Huawei.

In the midst of a trade war with Beijing, US president Donald Trump has barred US companies from engaging in telecoms trade with foreign companies that his government fears could threaten American national security.

The move comes as Huawei accelerates its leadership in what is an ailing smartphone market.

Recent data from IDC showed that global smartphone sales have slumped 4.9pc in Q4 2018, compared with a year earlier. A key reason has been high inventory and an overall decrease in consumer spending.

Huawei slipped from number two in the world to number three with a 16.1pc global market share.

The Chinese company’s travails with the US government may signal a warning shot for other Chinese smartphone vendors like Oppo and Xiaomi, which may sidestep the US altogether.

It could interfere with the company’s smartphone business globally as future versions of its smartphones will lose access to popular services such as the Google Play Store, Gmail and YouTube.

“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,” a Google spokesperson told Reuters.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years