Google has dealt a blow to Huawei’s fast-growing consumer smartphone business by suspending the delivery of key software and technical services to the Chinese company.
Huawei, which overtook Apple to become the world’s number two smartphone maker in the second quarter of last year, according to Gartner, relies on Google’s Android operating system for its phones — of which it shipped more than 200m last year.
Google’s move means Huawei would only have access to the basic, publicly available version of Android.
The suspension, first reported by Reuters, comes after Washington last week added Huawei to a list of 44 Chinese entities subject to US export controls because they pose a “significant risk” to US national security.
Adding Huawei to the so-called entity list — which means US groups will be required to secure a licence from the US government before selling any parts or components to the Shenzhen-based company — was the latest salvo from the Trump administration. The US has long fretted about the threat to national security posed by Huawei.
Tech Wash: why Trump’s move against Huawei has scared US businesses Google said on Monday: “We are complying with the order and reviewing the implications” but added that Google Play and the security protections from Google Play Protect would continue to function on existing Huawei devices.
Huawei said that, as one of Android’s key global partners, it had worked closely with Google’s open-source platform to develop an ecosystem that has benefited users and the industry.
“Huawei will continue to provide security updates and aftersales services to all existing Huawei and Honor smartphone and tablet products covering those have been sold or still in stock globally,” it said.
In a research note to clients, Citi analysts said the potential software ban “could paralyse Huawei’s smartphone and equipment business”.
Richard Windsor, an independent analyst, added that losing the Google ecosystem “is very likely to cost Huawei all of its smartphone shipments outside China” — which, according to data consultancies including Counterpoint Research, is roughly half its total.