Google has banned Huawei from accessing some updates to the Android operating system, dealing a major blow to the Chinese firm.
New designs of Huawei mobile phones are set to lose access to some Google apps. The users of current Huawei smartphones with Google apps, however, will continue to be able to use and download app updates provided by Google, a Google spokesperson said, confirming earlier reporting by Reuters.
“We are complying with the order and reviewing the implications,” the Google said.
“For users of our services, Google Play and the security protections from Google Play Protect will continue to function on existing Huawei devices,” their spokesperson added, without giving further details.
The suspension could weaken Huawei’s smartphone business outside China as the tech giant is likely to lose access to updates to Google’s Android operating system.
The future versions of Huawei smartphones that operate on Android will also lose access to popular services, including the Google Play Store, Gmail and YouTube apps.
“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,” the source said.
The Trump administration last week added Huawei Technologies Co Ltd to a trade blacklist and immediately implemented the restrictions that will make it difficult for the company to conduct business with US counterparts.
On Friday, the US Commerce Department revealed that it was considering bringing back restrictions on Huawei to “prevent the interruption of existing network operations and equipment”. It was not immediately clear on Sunday whether Huawei’s access to mobile software would be affected.
Details of the services that will be affected by the suspension are still being discussed internally at Google, according to the report. Huawei technology advisers are currently evaluating the impact of the blacklist, a Huawei spokesman said on Friday.
Chipmakers such as Intel Corp, Qualcomm Inc, Xilinx Inc and Broadcom Inc have said they will not supply critical software and components to Huawei until further notice.
Google apps including Gmail, YouTube and the Chrome browser that are available at Google’s Play Store will not be available from the future Huawei handsets as those services are not covered by the open source license and requires a business agreement with Google.
But for the users of existing Huawei devices who have access to the Google Play Store will still be able to download app updates that google provides. Some Apps like Gmail are normally updated through the store, although operating system updates are typically managed by phone manufacturers and telecoms carriers, that can also be blacklisted, the source revealed
Economic analysts say the impact of the blacklist is expected to be low in the Chinese market. Most Google mobile apps are outlawed in China but alternatives are provided by local competitors such as Tencent and Baidu.
“Having those apps is critical for smartphone makers to stay competitive in regions like Europe,” said Geoff Blaber, vice president of research, CCS Insight.
However, Huawei will continue to access the version of the Android operating system available through the open source license, known as Android Open Source Project (AOSP), that is available for free to anyone who wishes to use it. There are about 2.5 billion active Android devices worldwide, according to Google statistics.
Huawei chief executive Ren Zhengfei told Japanese media on Saturday that they have been preparing for the latest move by US administration.
He said the company, which buys about $67bn (£52.6bn) worth of material each year according to the Nikkei business newspaper, would move ahead to develop its own parts and apps.
Huawei has been facing growing backlash from most Western countries, led by the US, over possible risks posed by using its products and services in next-generation of 5G mobile networks.
Ben Wood, from the CCS Insight consultancy, said the move by Google would have “big implications for Huawei’s consumer business”.
“Huawei has been working hard on developing its own App Gallery and other software assets in a similar manner to its work on chipset solutions. There is little doubt these efforts are part of its desire to control its own destiny,” added Mr Wood on the Google Huawei ban.
Google will cease offering Huawei with access, technical support and collaboration involving its proprietary apps and mobile services.