Huawei moves to ease fears after Google announces restrictions

Zhu Shenshen
Telecomms company responds to US reports that Google is excluding its devices from services and apps. 
Zhu Shenshen

Huawei says it will continue to provide security updates and after-sales services to its customers after it was reported that Google is cutting off some business with the Chinese telecom giant.

On Thursday, the Trump administration added Huawei to a trade blacklist, restricting the company from doing business with US counterparts.

In a statement, Huawei said the updates would cover all existing Huawei and Honor smartphones and tablets that have been sold and are still in stock globally.

“Huawei will continue to provide security updates and after-sales services to all existing Huawei and Honor smartphones and tablets, covering those that have been sold and that are still in stock globally,” a Huawei spokesman said.

“We will continue to build a safe and sustainable software ecosystem, in order to provide the best experience for all users globally,” said Huawei, which is the world’s second-biggest smartphone maker after South Korea’s Samsung.

China is “closely watching” the issue and supports Chinese firms to protect their own interests by law, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman said yesterday.

Chinese users of Huawei’s devices are not affected, the company said.

Huawei’s devices in its home market do not have Google apps, but the move will damage the brand’s appeal to consumers outside China.

Almost half of the 208 million phones Huawei shipped in 2018 was outside Chinese mainland. Europe is the most important overseas market where it currently holds a 29 percent market share, according to technology research firm IDC.

Google said it would enact restrictions on Android updates to Huawei after the trade restrictions. “We are complying with the order and reviewing the implications,” a Google spokesman said.

But Google also said it will continue offering services to current users. Services such as Google Play & security will “keep functioning on existing Huawei devices,” it said.

“We assure you while we are complying with all US government requirements, services like Google Play & security from Google Play Protect will keep functioning on your existing Huawei device,” said Google on Twitter.

Google allows smartphone manufacturers to use Android and its basic services for free. But the transfer of hardware, software or services to Huawei or technical interaction would be restricted by the US order.

That would strip Huawei phones of Google maps and other services that require direct support. That might hurt Huawei where consumers can pick other brands that carry the full suite of Google features.

Chipmakers including Intel Corp, Qualcomm Inc, Xilinx Inc and Broadcom Inc have told their employees they will not supply critical software and components to Huawei until further notice, Bloomberg reported.

Huawei’s chip arm HiSilicon has been developing backup products for years in anticipation of the unlikely scenario that Huawei may one day be unable to obtain advanced chips and technology from the United States, President He Tingbo said in a letter to staff dated May 17.

Huawei said it was “one of Android’s key global partners.” The company said it helped to develop a system that “benefited both users and the industry.”

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