After Google restricted Chinese gadget-maker Huawei’s use of Android, the world’s second-largest smartphone seller after Samsung said that it would continue to “support” all existing Huawei and Honor (a sub-brand) devices around the world, including India.
However, it is not clear if existing Indian users of Huawei and Honor phones will continue to receive Android version (like Android Q) updates.
With Google’s restriction, Huawei will only be able to use the open-source Android (Android Open Source Project) and possibly develop its own version. This also means that Huawei devices may not receive Android OS updates unless they are available on AOSP. Users outside of China, who heavily depend on the Google Play Store for their app requirements, will also face issues if Huawei won’t be able to integrate Google software or services in its future devices.
“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,” the company said in a statement. However, it did not elaborate on whether upcoming smartphones or tablets will continue to offer Google services such as Gmail and YouTube.
However, users who already own Huawei devices will continue to receive app updates and security services from Google Play Protect. A tweet from Android’s handle stated: “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 (sic).”
In China, Huawei is unlikely to face major setbacks due to this move, as a lot of Google services don’t function in its home country. However, in markets like Europe and India, the unavailability of Google services can hit the company as users purchase phones for the app and services ecosystem too.
In India, Android phones, especially from Chinese companies such as Xiaomi, Oppo, Vivo and Huawei, sell in large numbers, and according to data for the first quarter of 2019 from Counterpoint Research, Huawei’s market share in India was 4 per cent and the company was on the list of top 10 smartphone brands.
Huawei is caught in the midst of a trade war between the US and China. The US has restricted Huawei from buying technology from US companies without its approval, which Google seems to be complying with.
Reports have also stated that companies such as Intel and Qualcomm will not sell to Huawei although Huawei is said to have prepared for this eventuality. A lot of phones from Huawei and Honor use Huawei’s own Kirin chipsets.
Huawei shipped 59.1 million smartphones in the first quarter of 2019, according to Counterpoint, only behind Samsung (72 million) and well ahead of Apple (42 million). The company had a global smartphone share of 17 per cent.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India on Monday said the issue of whether India needs to take a stand on Huawei is a “larger question” and that it is up to the government to take a call on the matter.―The Hindu Business Line