The US Department of Commerce ban which effectively prevents Huawei from buying from US companies has been subjected to a temporary reprieve, but this comes to an end in mid August, and once that time comes, all hell potentially breaks loose.
Public opinion seems to be siding with Huawei on this one, with many viewing the ban as unfair and not proportional to whatever risk the company poses, but it seems business opinion is heading in the same way.
Google itself has been critical of the ban, and now Huawei has delivered a warning to the US (via Google) – upholding this ban could cost Google up to 700-800 million users if future Huawei phones are not allowed to use the Android operating system.
This fits with local comments from Huawei Australia, where managing director Larking Huang has gone on record stating that the company loves Google – as well as other US products that the company uses – and wants to, if at all possible, continue to use those products and services in its own product offering.
However, Huang is realistic – if Huawei cannot, despite its best efforts, get access to American-made products to use, it will source alternatives. Huang has referred to alternative suppliers for most critical parts and says that the next smartphones from Huawei will be made regardless of the ban continuing or not. Of course, timeframes may slip, he admits, but the message was clear – trade ban or not, Huawei will continue in the smartphone business.
The messaging comes as US companies are finding ways to circumvent the trade ban. It appears some of Huawei’s suppliers have identified gaps in the ban which allow them to ship product made overseas directly to Huawei, despite being “made” by an American company.
This comes down to a number of factors – such as the amount of US components and intellectual property involved, but Ausdroid understands that semiconductor suppliers and suppliers of other components are managing to ship product to Huawei despite the ban.
Whether Google will, in fact, lose 700 million customers or more ultimately is a bit more nuanced; while many customers will leave the Google ecosystem if Huawei goes, many may simply by phones from Huawei competitors, meaning the net impact on Google could be significantly less.
One thing’s for sure. Trade ban or not, we’re going to see a new smartphone from Huawei soon enough, and only time will tell whether it runs Google’s Android, or the rumoured Hongmeng / Ark OS that we’ve seen rumours of.