On the eve of the deployment in the world of 5G technology, the next ultra-fast generation of mobile Internet, Donald Trump banned American telecommunications networks from sourcing equipment from foreign companies deemed “at risk” on Wednesday, May 15, a measure targeting Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications giant.
As a result, Google announced the suspension of the commercial version of its Android operating system and applications for Huawei phones. This decision has serious consequences for current and future users of the Chinese giant’s smartphones.
1. What is Huawei accused of?
In 2018, Huawei became the number two smartphone manufacturer, overtaking Apple. The company, headquartered in Shenzen, southern China, has long been on the radar screen of the American authorities.
Its founder, Ren Zhengfei, is far from inspiring the confidence of Western countries. A former army engineer, he is suspected of spying for the Chinese government.
Huawei and its subsidiaries are also accused of dozens of other crimes. Finance director Meng Wanzhou, daughter of the group’s founder, is suspected of violations of the Iranian embargo. For that, she was arrested in Canada on December 1, 2018, at the request of American investigators.
In February 2018, the FBI, the CIA and the NSA formally advised American business leaders against the use of Huawei devices. Federal law prohibits them even for government and military officials.
The United States has never publicly provided evidence to support these accusations, but for years it has been urging its allies to do without Huawei’s infrastructure.
2. Which changes for Huawei?
As long as it paid Google a license, the Huawei group could install the latest version of the Android system on its smartphones, which currently equips 85% of the phones sold worldwide.
On the blacklist, Huawei Technologies can no longer use the products made in the United States. The giant Google will no longer provide software, hardware, and technical services to Huawei, except for those available in open source (free access on the Internet). Huawei will have access to the Android Open Source Project (AOSP), a royalty-free version of Google’s operating system.
3. Can we do without Google?
The crisis between the two giants raises the question of Google’s omnipresence in our digital lives and uses. We should note that the Alphabet’s subsidiary claims about 2.5 billion active Android devices worldwide.
However, a world without Android by Google is possible as in China, where 80% of smartphones are running on it while Google is banned. Chinese alternatives replace most of Google’s mobile applications, such as Tencent and Baidu.
4. Which impact for your mobile phone?
Europe, Huawei’s second largest market, is likely to be strongly impacted by this decision. The first significant consequence is that current users will no longer be able to update the Android operating system. However, they will be able to continue to use and update the mobile applications provided by Google.
It is not the case for future users of Huawei smartphones. Google will no longer provide its official store to the Chinese giant: the next devices will, therefore, lack the Google Play Store and applications developed by Google, such as Google Maps, Gmail, YouTube, and Google Chrome.
However, Google Play and security protections will continue to work on existing Huawei models.