The 90-day extension granted to Google to supply existing Huawei handsets with a limited range of updates has expired. What has happened? Apparently not much except the volume of fake news has significantly ramped up to obscure the facts. Here is clarity as we see it!

History: On 15 May the US President signed an executive order giving the federal government the power to block US companies from buying foreign-made telecommunications equipment deemed a national security risk. Some call it the Huawei order and Trump’s now-famous words were, “It’s my way or the Huawei.”

Huawei

Google rightly stated at the time that disallowing Huawei access to Android, Google Play (apps), security patches and indeed Android 10, etc., was cruel and unusual punishment to those who had bought Huawei handsets.

Fact: On 7 August US President Trump announced that the US Ban on Huawei “Kicks in next week”. The Whitehouse released a link to the “Prepublication Version of an Interim Rule Being Issued by DoD, GSA, and NASA which officially prohibits the use of Huawei equipment. That sounds pretty definite.

The US blacklist has had far-reaching effects on Huawei.

It has effectively cut Huawei’s Android smartphone sales off at the knees. Indeed, depending on whom you believe it appears the backlisting has cost Huawei US$30 billion and a 40-60% drop in international sales. Some sources report 80% drops resulting in massive layoffs.

Huawei

 Almost no handset sales in the US, a massive sales drop in Europe and ANZ and mainstream Telcos and retailers refusing to sell the product until there is a clear resolution of the issues. It is doing well in homeland China (where Google services are not allowed anyway) cruelling the sales of Apple’s iPhone.

Indeed, GadgetGuy (that has its extremely high 87+% reader credibility rating it wants to keep) and many mainstream media, have not reviewed Huawei product until there is a clear resolution. We did not want to rate its products well (as it deserves) while the spectre of the ban could impact people buying and using the product longer-term.

The August deadline has reaffirmed the ban.

Again, depending on whom you believe, there is a definitive no go (ban) or go (specific exclusions).

First, in late June, Trump opened the door to US companies to apply for limited trade licences if the tech or components were not a threat to US national security. Bloomberg reports that last week, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross had received 50 requests and that decisions on all of them were still pending. Do not hold your breath!

Second, Google argues that its licence is until 19, not 13 August – OK Google, we will ask you more about that next week and your interpretation of the Gregorian Calendar.

Third, as of 13 August, it is now the rule of law – no business with Huawei. Trump says there are no plans to allow more sales by U.S. suppliers of non-sensitive products to Huawei. He said the issue of Huawei is not related to the trade talks.

Fourth, Trump has delayed additional tariffs on mobile phones and laptops until 15 December. Other tariffs will go ahead as planned on books, clothes and school supplies on 1 September.

HarmonyOS – an Android killer?

Huawei has conveniently announced HarmonyOS – a potential Android replacement. It is a fact that no matter how good Huawei’s new HarmonyOS is that

  1. it will take years and many tears to get it to a viable smartphone operating system and app ecosystem. HarmonyOS is slated for wearables and smart home devices first.
  2. Western markets will never accept HarmonyOS as a viable smartphone operating system while they have a choice of Google Android or Apple iOS. China may be able to do without the Play Store, future versions of Android and Google’s apps but the rest of the world will not.
Huawei

So, sales of Huawei without Google will only be in China and sympathetic Asian markets.

What does the final ban mean for Google?

Goggle exploited a minor loophole in the intent of the Executive Order to keep supplying Huawei with software and services for its existing handsets. That means everything up to the current P30 series. Huawei argues that its pending Mate 30/Pro launch next month at IFA Germany is under that umbrella too (given the 12-18 months lead time to develop a phone). Fair enough.