In a startling, stunning move, Huawei has lost its Android license after Google suspended business operations with the Chinese manufacturer, which is effective immediately.
How this affects Huawei moving forward is uncertain, but it takes no genius to surmise the implications of such a radical cutoff.
As Reuters reports, which cites a source apparently close to the matter, Google was forced into suspending business with Huawei that "requires the transfer of hardware and software products." Immediately, Huawei is to lose access to updates to the Android operating system. In addition, its next smartphone lineup outside of China is to lose access to popular applications and services, including the Google Play Store and Gmail app.
Meaning, no further Android security updates will be provided to Huawei devices both new and old, including the recent P30, P30 Pro, Mate 20 Pro, and a ton of others.
Google Cuts Off Huawei
Asked why it's doing this, a spokesperson told The Verge that Google is complying with the order and reviewing the implications. The order in this case references the U.S. Commerce Department's recent decision to place Huawei on the "Entity List," which Reuters explains is a list of companies that can't buy technology from U.S. companies without government approval.
Moving forward, Huawei will have to rely on the Android Open Source Project, or AOSP. Huawei will still be able to push security updates for its phones, but only once those updates are made available in AOSP, assuming Huawei will use its own update system. Again, it remains unclear how this is going to affect the wide range of Android interactions Huawei depends on.
The Panic Over Huawei
Huawei has been on the hot seat of late with President Donald Trump and the U.S. government fearing the company would use its devices to spy on American networks. Such panic isn't unprecedented. In 2018, U.S. intelligence agencies cautioned against using devices from Huawei and ZTE. Some political figures even consider Huawei an "arm of the Chinese government."
Even still, Huawei has maintained that it's not possible for the Chinese government to affect its devices with backdoors, and it has remained a positive outlook on its future in America. This development surely dents that optimism, and poses a great risk to Huawei's mobile business outside of its home country. Huawei seems to be thinking several steps ahead, though. Recently, it was reported that the company was developing a proprietary operating system in case Google and Microsoft prevent it from using theirs. It's not clear if that would sit well with the U.S. government, however.