There is no denying that Huawei’s success in the telecoms and smartphone business has made it a target of trade wars from Western markets. In the last couple of years, the Chinese technology company has asserted its authority in the insanely competitive telecoms business, and has done a darn good job owing to its current reach and price sensitive offerings. However, these developments have not been met with the enthusiasm its competitors have received elsewhere because the company, which was started three decades ago by an army general, has been subject to a series of unproven accusations, some of which are merited and equally bizarre.
Of course, the campaign against Huawei is steered by the United States under the leadership of President Donald Trump. A few months ago, Huawei was banned from conducting its business in the U.S. for reasons that were not explicitly stated. To a normal person, the ban was trivial because Huawei grew its business without relying on American clients. For instance, its reach in its homeland, Europe and other key markets besides the U.S. is notable. However, this does not imply that the U.S. cutting ties with it did not hurt its ambitions. Also, the U.S. started to pressure its allies to do the same thing with Huawei, although some members such as Germany and the U.K. are yet to make their decisions known.
Perhaps the most damaging hammer to descend on the Chinese corporation is yesterday’s decision by Google to cut ties with it. Google owns Android, a mobile phone OS that powers billions of smartphones in the world, among millions of IoT devices. It is obvious that Google, an American company, was compelled to do so by American elite political class that calls the shots in the nation. This implies that Huawei’s future devices will not be powered by Google services of apps that are attached to Google framework from the likes of YouTube, Chrome and Gmail, to mention a few. It is a big blow that no one saw coming, but will it fuel Huawei’s rise to greatness?
To put the implications of the ban in context, Huawei is world’s second largest smartphone maker behind Samsung. Google, which started making hardware just the other day with the Pixel line of devices relies on the likes of Huawei and Samsung, among other tens of OEMs to popularize the mobile OS and distribute it to as many people as possible. Therefore, Google would not, unless directed to do so, cut off a major business partner unless additional factors that we do not know were in play.
Obviously, Huawei had to respond to this massive blow to their smartphone business. Here is the official statement from the corporation:
Huawei has made substantial contributions to the development and growth of Android around the world. As one of Android’s key global partners, we have worked closely with their open-source platform to develop and ecosystem that has benefited both users and the industry.
Huawei will continue to provide security updates and after-sales services to all existing Huawei and Honor smartphone and Honor products, covering those that have been sold and are in stock globally.
We will continue to build a safe and sustainable software ecosystem, in order to provide the best experience for all users globally.
The fine print implies that Huawei has, at least theoretically, already given up reconstructing its working relationship with Google. It also does not discuss what trend its smartphone business will take, considering it has no inhouse mobile OS to roll back to. Samsung toyed with the idea with Tizen, but Huawei’s approach sought to explore the chip business first with the Kirin subsidiary. It is also worth noting that Huawei’s devices that are sold in China do not have Google services.
No one saw this blow coming, but what is anticipated? Probably, because if history serves us well, products and services do not last forever, hence the need to expand the scope of any business operations with a variety of options should market forces act to their disadvantage.
We are certain these trade will take more twists and turns in coming days, and that Huawei will fight back to assert its position regardless of Western interference.