Google has suspended business with Huawei that requires the transfer of hardware, software and technical services except those publicly available via open source licensing, Reuters reports, citing a source familiar with the matter.
The move could hobble Huawei’s smartphone business outside China as the tech giant will immediately lose access to updates to Google’s Android operating system, the report said.
The next version of its Android smartphones will also lose access to popular services including the Google Play Store and Gmail and YouTube apps.
“Huawei will only be able to use the public version of Android and will not be able to get access to proprietary apps and services from Google,” Reuters cited its source as saying.
Google’s move comes as the US government has placed Huawei on a trade backlist amid fears over the Chinese telecoms equipment giant’s suspected links with the Chinese government.
The Trump administration last Thursday added Huawei to a trade blacklist, immediately enacting restrictions that will make it extremely difficult for the company to do business with US counterparts.
The extent to which Huawei will be hurt by the US government’s blacklist is not yet known as its global supply chain assesses the impact. Chip experts have questioned Huawei’s ability to continue to operate without US help.
Details of the specific services affected by the suspension were still being discussed internally at Google, according to the Reuters source.
Huawei will continue to have access to the version of the Android operating system available through the open source license, known as Android Open Source Project (AOSP), that is available for free to anyone who wishes to use it.
But Google will stop providing Huawei with access, technical support and collaboration involving its proprietary apps and services going forward, according to the Reuters source.
Huawei has said it has spent the last few years preparing a contingency plan by developing its own technology in case it is blocked from using Android. Some of this technology is already being used in products sold in China, the company has said.
In an interview with Reuters in March, Eric Xu, rotating chairman of Huawei, struck a defiant note in anticipation of retaliatory actions by US companies.
“No matter what happens, the Android Community does not have any legal right to block any company from accessing its open-source license,” Xu said.
Popular Google apps such as Gmail, YouTube and the Chrome browser that are available through Google’s Play Store will disappear from future Huawei handsets as those services are not covered by the open source license and require a commercial agreement with Google.
But users of existing Huawei devices who have access to the Google Play Store will still be able to download app updates provided by Google.
Apps such as Gmail are updated through the store, unlike operating system updates which are typically handled by phone manufacturers and telecoms carriers, which the blacklist could affect.
The impact is expected to be minimal in the Chinese market. Most Google mobile apps are banned in China, where alternatives are offered by domestic competitors such as Tencent and Baidu, Reuters noted.
But Huawei’s European business, its second-biggest market, could be hit as Huawei licenses these services from Google in Europe.
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