Google pulls Huawei’s Android licence – What it could mean for South Africa

The United States has imposed strict limitations on its technology trade with China, with Huawei directly affected by the crackdown.

As a result of this “trade war”, Google announced it has cut off Huawei’s Android licence – a move which would have serious implications for the manufacturer’s smartphone business.

Google released a statement which attributes the revocation of the licence to compliance with US government policy.

“We are complying with the order and reviewing the implications,” the company said.

“For users of our services, Google Play and the security protections from Google Play Protect will continue to function on existing Huawei devices.”

Implications

The immediate consequence of this decision will be Huawei’s loss of access to Android updates, which means that existing Huawei smartphones will not be able to receive any official Android OS updates going forward.

According to a report by Reuters, Huawei will only be able to use the open-source version of Android and will lose access to proprietary apps and services from Google.

The services and applications which will be limited by the implementation of this suspension are still being discussed within Google, the report said.

Huawei has stated that it is examining the impact of the US trade blacklist on its products.

While the Chinese manufacturer will be able to use the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) licence to develop its software, this licence does not encompass applications such as Gmail, YouTube, and the Chrome browser.

These applications require a commercial agreement with Google and are available to download through the Google Play Store.

Local effect

It remains unclear how Huawei will alter its platform following the suspension of its Android licence, but South Africa and other Western markets could be caught in a potentially compromising position.

Huawei may choose to migrate its devices to its own proprietary operating system, which it confirmed it has been developing in case it loses access to Android.

Moving to this new operating system would have a minimal effect in China, where most Google applications are banned and users have adopted Chinese equivalents.

However, the loss of access to YouTube, Gmail, Chrome, and other popular apps could have a devastating effect on users in the Western markets where Huawei operates.

Huawei has greatly expanded its presence in the South African market, with its devices proving extremely popular due to their lower prices and solid design.

However, regardless of whether Huawei decides to migrate to its backup OS or stay with an open-source version of Android, its Android licence suspension will have a significant impact on Huawei users in South Africa.

The loss of access to popular apps and services is yet to be officially confirmed by Google.

Huawei will support devices

Huawei told MyBroadband that it has made substantial contributions to the development and growth of Android.

“As one of Android’s key global partners, we have worked closely with their open-source platform to develop an ecosystem that has benefitted both users and the industry,” said Huawei.

“Huawei will continue to provide security updates and after-sales services to all existing Huawei and Honor smartphone and tablet products, covering those that have been sold and that are still in stock globally.”

“We will continue to build a safe and sustainable software ecosystem in order to provide the best experience for all users globally.”

Now read: Lenovo denies speculation it stopped supplying to Huawei

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Google pulls Huawei’s Android licence – What it could mean for South Africa