Huawei has said it will continue to sell Android-based smartphones from its existing stocks in India and support the ones that are in use, but analysts believe the company’s future business will take a massive hit with US major Google deciding to suspend ties with the world’s second-largest handset maker after the Trump administration added the Chinese company to a trade blacklist.
Analysts said the company will be forced to suspend the rollout of new devices from its handset brands — Huawei and Honor — in India in the short term and wait for the Chinese government to intervene to resolve the trade issue with the US government.
Huawei currently has around 4.5% of the smartphone market in India, as per IDC, while Counterpoint Research puts its share at around 3.5%. The Honor brand is among the fastest growing in India, with Huawei having marked out the world’s fastest growing smartphone market as among its most critical one.
Navkendar Singh, research director, client devices and IPDS, IDC India, said that Huawei’s sales in India are expected to take a hit in the coming days with the word spreading that Google services and support will not be available. “In the retail, there will be a breakdown of the conversation that Huawei or Honor devices will have OS and app store issue, and the competition will also start to act which will lead to retailers selling handsets of other brands over Huawei and Honor,” Singh said.
In a statement to ET, a Huawei spokesperson said that the company has made substantial contributions to the development and growth of Android around the world and as one of Android’s key global partners, it has worked closely with their open-source platform to develop an ecosystem that has benefitted both users and the industry.
“We 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. We will continue to build a safe and sustainable software ecosystem in order to provide the best experience globally,” the spokesperson said.
This, after Google said it will stop providing Huawei access, technical support, and collaboration involving its proprietary apps and services going forward, as per media reports. This means that Huawei will not just lose access to the Android operating system, but will also lose access to GMS or Google Media Services which is a collection of Google applications like Maps, Gmail and access to Play Store.
“We assure you while we are complying with all US govt requirements, services like Google Play & security from Google Play Protect will keep functioning on your existing Huawei device,” Google said on Twitter.
“We assure you while we are complying with all US govt requirements, services like Google Play & security from Google Play Protect will keep functioning on your existing Huawei device,” Neil Shah, a research director at Counterpoint Research, said Huawei could look at using Android Open Source Project (AOSP) with a third-party marketplace, but that marketplace won’t have millions of apps, and it won’t be as secure as Google, besides compatibility of apps with devices will also be a challenge. GMS is not part of the AOSP.
“However, the brand image for Huawei could hurt significantly if the OS and app part is incomplete in India,” Shah said.
AOSP is an Android operating system version available through the open source licence. IDC’s Singh though said that AOSP is not a way out for Huawei in India.
“What needs also to be seen is how very popular apps like WhatsApp, Office365, Facebook, Netflix, etc., will react. Logically this (US) order extends to them as well,” Faisal Kawoosa, founder analyst of TechArc, said.
“This effectively means that if Huawei has to remain in the smartphone business, it has to build the entire stack on its own, which is not challenging for a company like Huawei, but consumer acceptability beyond China markets would be a concern. This means creating two parallel smartphone ecosystems, which may not interoperate,” said Kawoosa.―Business Telegraph