While Huawei might have a temporary reprieve from much of the impact of the US Department of Commerce Entity Listing until mid November, it seems that the reprieve might be fleeting.
Google has told Reuters overnight that, despite being able to release the Mate 30 running Android, it won’t be able to run key Google software including Google Play Services, and apps that depend on those services, including Gmail, Google Maps and more.
Huawei’s Mate 30 is set for a reveal in mid-September, and according to recent confirmation from Huawei, it will run Android having secured the rights to this from Google.
However, the overnight news seems to dispute this. A Google spokesperson told Reuters that the Mate 30 cannot be sold with licensed Google apps and services, due to the US ban on sales to Huawei. The temporary reprieve allows Huawei to service existing products, not new ones like the Mate 30.
It is unclear whether Google has applied for a license to provide its apps and services to Huawei for the Mate 30 series, but as yet, it appears no such licence is in place.
Can Huawei launch the Mate 30 without Google Services?
Without Google services, Huawei’s Mate 30 faces an increasingly uphill battle. Consumers overwhelmingly expect Android devices in western markets to come with these key apps, as services such as Gmail and Google Maps are incredibly popular.
If Huawei is unable to license Google Play Services, then its Mate 30 range will be unable to run Gmail, Maps, Drive, Google Play apps (such as Movies, Music, etc), and all the sync services (Contacts, Calendar, etc) won’t work either.
Without access to Google’s proprietary services, Huawei can still launch the Mate 30 with Android (using the open source version that’s available freely), but Android without Google’s services is a tough sell. Amazon sells its Fire range of products without Google services, but it has a fairly extensive library of its own alternatives which work quite well – popular apps (apart from Google’s own) are readily available on Amazon’s version of Android, even including YouTube.
However, Huawei doesn’t have that same level of access, leaving users with a difficult choice if there’s no Google services available. Huawei does have its own app store which competes with the Play Store, however there’s issues here too – US companies can’t sell on it (due to the US ban) so there would be s no Twitter, Facebook or any other apps from US companies.
It would also still mean no Google apps, and lots of consumers want those.
Will Google provide an option for consumers to license their own version of Google’s services?
In Europe, to comply with EU antitrust rulings, Google charges OEMs a fee (believed to be around $40 per phone) to include Google services and apps on a device.
Conceivably, Google could extend this program to make the services an installable option for Android devices that do not include them. Instead of charging OEMs, they could license the consumer directly, and it need not be a paid licence – Google could quite easily offer the services for free, subject to acceptance of a licence agreement.
This would comply with the US ban on selling to Huawei, as Google’s contract would be with the individual consumer. It would, however, require the consumer to go through further steps to get Google Services on their devices, and that’s something which may not be particularly appealing for Huawei or consumers, assuming it were even possible.
We have approached Huawei for comment, and will come back to you when we have further information.