Huawei to face first challenge without Google support

September 03, 2019 13:36
The lack of Google support may have a huge impact on Huawei sales in overseas markets. Photo: Reuters

Huawei Technologies, the world's largest telecommunications equipment maker, will face its first test of doing business overseas without Google support when it unveils its latest luxury smartphones in Europe this month.

A Google spokesman told Reuters late last week that Huawei Mate 30 series, which will be unveiled in Munich on Sept. 18, cannot be sold with licensed Google apps and services because of the US ban on sales to the Chinese company.

A temporary reprieve that the US government announced recently does not cover new products such as the Mate 30, according to the spokesman.

Thus, the Huawei Mate 30 series will be the first Huawei smartphone to be affected by the trade ban, which the US imposed on fears that the company is spying for the Chinese government, an allegation that it has denied.

This means that Mate 30 users will not be able to avail themselves of popular Google services such as the Google search engine, Gmail, YouTube, the Chrome browser, Google Document and Google Maps.

Instead, the smartphone will most probably be running on its own EMUI operating system, which is based on an open-source version of Google's Android.

This will be a major setback for Mate 30 as smartphone users anywhere except China would like to have the complete support of Google Mobile Services.

Of course, smartphone users have chosen Huawei products in the past because of inherent features such as their fast-charging capability and Leica-endorsed mobile camera system.

But a phone without the ability to search on Google, send emails via GMail, watch videos on YouTube, and locate an office or restaurant through Google Maps will be practically useless for most smartphone users.

They may still be able to enjoy such Google services if they download an illegal APK (Android application package) to their smartphone.

But without Google's official support, smartphone users will not be able to receive regular updates of the apps to ensure their service quality.

This can prove very inconvenient, and costly, for those who rely on Google Maps to plan their trip, for example, because they will be using outdated map information without the updates.

Huawei has yet to tell the public whether the Mate 30 series will be able to tap Google Mobile Services, while the domestic market version is sure to exclude Google services because of the Chinese government policy.

So the lack of Google services will not affect Huawei's business in China. But for the overseas market, the lack of Google support could have a huge impact on its sales.

Huawei has been developing its own operating system called Harmony for the use of multiple devices in the connected world. But the company may not be able to roll out the Harmony OS on a massive scale in just a few weeks' time.

There is scant information on the specifications of the Mate 30 series. It will come with the latest Kirin 990 chipset. Based on a leaked photo, the phone will have a round-shaped camera module with a multi-camera system it jointly developed with Leica.

Over the past few years, Huawei has been doing quite well in the European market, becoming one of the top three smartphone brands on the continent.

According to Counterpoint Research, Huawei held around 26 percent of the European market in the first quarter this year, behind Samsung’s 31 percent but ahead of Apple’s 21 percent. However, its market share has shrunk since the US announced the ban.

So how will Huawei convince smartphone users to buy an Android phone without Google services?

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EJ Insight writer