As you may know, Google and several other companies imposed a ban on Huawei for both software and hardware components. This is because of the latest ban on the company imposed by the US government on Huawei due to concerns of espionage by the Chinese government. How much of a risk Huawei truly is and if the espionage allegations are true or not deserves an article on its own. I won’t open this pandora box for now since there are many aspects to it and obviously, I don’t have all the details.
What I want to talk about is the current ban from Google and what impact it has on Huawei’s smartphone business. Huawei is one of the top 3 smartphone manufacturers in the world and was on track to become number one in a few years. If the restrictions are not lifted fast then this trend will surely fade and Huawei will slip down in the tops. In the Chinese market, it will still be competitive, since there, Google Play and other Google services are not available by default. But in the US, Europe, and most other places, no one will buy a smartphone without an app ecosystem.
Like it or not, Google has the biggest and most influential application store for Android devices. Furthermore, apps like GMail, Youtube, Maps, and Chrome are considered must-have. And let’s not forget all the other apps that, even though are not bundled directly with a new smartphone, are used by many people, apps like Drive, Waze, Keep. Without those applications, Huawei smartphones become a lot less attractive. Sure, you could potentially flash them, but few people have the knowledge, time or are willing to do that to a brand new device. Also, Huawei would have to open its bootloader, which will pose some security risks.
Still, Things are not that bad. Android is an open source project. Huawei could switch the AOSP builds and still have a perfectly functional OS for its smartphones and tablets. You would still have the Google Services problem, but at least the main operating system is the same, familiar and runs the same applications that, with a bit of perseverance, could be installed from other sources. Furthermore, already released devices will continue to function as they do since the ban only affects new hardware. The only problem for current owners is that Android Q won’t be available for their smartphone unless the ban is lifted.
Huawei does not make only smartphones. A big part of their business is telecommunications equipment. The ban will put a big dent there as well since telecommunications companies from within the US (and I suspect a similar ban will come in the EU) won’t be able to purchase Huawei equipment. This will affect end users as well since the roll-out of 5G will be slowed down. Yes, there are other companies that offer 5G equipment, but with one player out of the picture (and maybe two if ZTE, another Chinese company, will have the same faith), prices will probably increase.
I suspect that in a month or two, everything will be settled and get back to normal. This Ban on Huawei is a political battle between the US and China. For every action the US does, China will counter and a trade war benefits no one on the long term. The US flexes its muscles, China flexes its and both parties display their power, but, in the end, it all falls down to money. Once they will reach an agreement, the ban will be lifted or at least loosen. At least that is my prediction.