Some shocking news emerged over the weekend that is likely to have huge ramifications for the Android market. Reuters reported that as of last week, Huawei has been added to the ‘Entity List’ which means that US companies will no longer be able to conduct business with Huawei, without explicit approval from the US government first.
As a result, Google has frozen Huawei out of any hardware and software products – the only thing that Huawei has access to are open source licences. In practice, this means that any future phone that Huawei (or sub-brand Honor) brings to the market will not be able to access to the Google Play Store, Gmail and anything else covered through the Play services framework.
There has been some debate as to what this means for existing Huawei owners, but Google confirmed that Huawei/Honor owners will continue to receive access to the Play Store and services such as Play Protect.
For Huawei users' questions regarding our steps to comply w/ the recent US government actions: We assure you while we are complying with all US gov't requirements, services like Google Play & security from Google Play Protect will keep functioning on your existing Huawei device.
— Android (@Android) May 20, 2019
Huawei also followed up and said that existing Huawei/Honor owners will continue to receive security updates and after-sales services. While no doubt both Google and Huawei are still trying to work out the full implications of this US government move, it is increasingly likely that existing owners will not receive any further OS upgrades. This means that owners will either be stuck on their existing OS and security patch level, or Huawei will have to find a potentially insecure way of updating handsets.
A message to our UK fans regarding the announcement by Google. Further updates to follow. pic.twitter.com/Thxwm8BtNJ
— Huawei Mobile UK (@HuaweiMobileUK) May 20, 2019
Huawei has enjoyed considerable growth over recent years – it was one of the few Android OEMs to grow in Q1 2019 – with shipments up by over 50 percent versus the same quarter last year according to IDC. This is partly due to the innovation it has been pushing, particularly in cameras. It is a shame that this innovation will be stifled due to the trade war between the US and China, and the consumers will be the ones that hurt.
Huawei phones are not sold in the US, but it has been enjoying considerable success in Europe in recent years – its second biggest market after China, and was up 55% in 2018. Much of this success is likely from previous Sony, Samsung and LG owners that switched to Huawei/Honor phones.
However, the woes that Huawei now faces is likely to be good news for other Android manufacturers, such as Sony. We know how much Sony has been struggling with their smartphone division and falling Xperia sales. But could this mean that more people will take another look to see what Xperia has to offer – particularly with new halo devices such as the Xperia 1 close to being released?
Are you one of those that switched from an Xperia to a Huawei/Honor device in recent years? How do you feel about this news? Do you think this news will strengthen Sony’s hand? What does Sony need to do to capitalise on this situation? We’d love to hear your comments below.
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