It’s safe to assume that many within Huawei were hopeful that this week would bring some good news to the beleaguered Chinese tech company.
After six months on the US Entity list, Huawei’s consumer business is feeling the pinch perhaps more than others, as without access to Google Mobile Services, its smartphone products – the most visible product Huawei makes – just aren’t all that marketable.
The Mate 30 series is perhaps the best example of the problem Huawei faces. Contrased with the Huawei Mate 20 series launch last year – a big, international event with press from around the world in attendance, and a phone which launched in most countries – the Mate 30 launch has been the complete opposite.
A big international event was a much smaller one held in continental Europe. Some international press were there, but not as many. Huawei CBG chief executive Richard Yu was visibly nervous on stage .. as well he might be. He knew that Huawei’s smartphone business – his baby, after all – would launch a technically brilliant handset with software that no one would buy. Little wonder the launch event felt more like a going through of the motions than something anyone was excited about.
The entry of Huawei and its related companies on the US Entity list has had a big impact on the consumer business (if not other divisions with which we’re less familiar). Staff have come and gone, those remaining behind are feeling the pressure, and agencies have been let go (albeit, overseas). All this results in some confused messaging because – at the heart of the issue – no one really knows what’s going to happen or when/if anything will change.
This week, it was hoped, Huawei would benefit from some US companies being granted licences to deal with the Chinese tech giant. At the top of those list of hopes was Google, as a US government licence to Google permitting trade with Huawei could well give the consumer business the boost it’s needed.
With developments overnight, that seems in doubt.
After two 90-day reprieves (of sorts) from the consequences of the US Entity listing, Huawei’s time is running out. On the 19th, Huawei will find out whether it will be given a further reprieve, or whether some of its valued trading partners will be granted licences to allow them to supply the company.
However, reports overnight suggest the US government will give Huawei a further reprieve .. of just two weeks. This is, quite obviously, much less than the most recent 90 day extension, which expires today (noting timezones, this will actually be Monday for our Australian audience).
For its part, Huawei hasn’t made any comment yet, and Reuters reports the US Department of Commerce hasn’t either.
Speaking on US television on Friday, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said that some rural carriers in the US need the temporary licenses and are dependent on Huawei for 3G and 4G networks.
“There are enough problems with telephone service in the rural communities – we don’t want to knock them out. So, one of the main purposes of the temporary general licenses is to let those rural guys continue to operate,” Ross said.
Given the continued rhetoric from the US around distrust of the Chinese tech firm, perhaps the hopes that Google (and others) will be issued licences allowing them to resume supply to Huawei are a bit misplaced.
We sure hope we’re wrong.