US internet giant Google, whose Android mobile operating system powers most of the world’s smartphones, said it was beginning to cut ties with Huawei, which Washington considers a national security threat.
In the midst of a trade war with Beijing, President Donald Trump has barred US companies from engaging in telecommunications trade with foreign companies which could threaten American national security.
The measure targets Huawei, a Chinese telecoms giant in Washington’s sights that is listed by the Commerce Department among firms with which American companies can only engage in trade after obtaining the green light from the authorities.
The ban includes technology sharing.
“We are complying with the order and reviewing the implications,” a Google spokesperson told AFP.
The move could have dramatic implications since Google, like all tech companies, must collaborate with smartphone makers to ensure its systems are compatible with their devices.
Google will have to halt business activities with Huawei that involve transfer of hardware, software and technical services that are not publicly available — meaning Huawei will only be able to use the open source version of Android, a source close to the matter told AFP.
Huawei will no longer have access to Google’s proprietary apps and services, such as the Gmail email service.
Huawei did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Huawei is a rapidly expanding leader in 5G technology but remains dependent on foreign suppliers.
US government agencies are already banned from buying equipment from Huawei.
Huawei founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei said on Saturday that “We have not done anything which violates the law,” adding that the US measures would have a limited impact.
Nothing changes on your P20 or P30 today – or in the very near future….
Google has confirmed that any Huawei device currently in use will still have access to Google Play – which means critical security patches and updates to apps will keep coming, at least for now.
As long as Google Play continues to operate normally, users should see no impact at all on the level of applications.
As best anyone can tell right now, the legal relationship for a Google Play user on a Huawei device in South Africa is between the consumer and Google.