The U.S. has added the Chinese tech giant to a trade blacklist apparently to “secure the information and communications technology and services supply chain,” banning any U.S. hardware company from selling components and software that may be used in 5G networking equipment to Huawei.
For Google it also means cutting off Android support to Huawei, along with Google’s other services, impacting existing Huawei devices. As a result, Huawei devices won’t be able to offer the Google Play app store or any of the Google services like Google Maps, YouTube, and Gmail.
However, while impacting Huawei, this will also have a long-term impact on Google. With the intention of blowing foreign adversaries, the U.S. government may have also hurt the homegrown Google’s Android revenue. With Android already facing growing resistance across the world, this ban may have struck Google harder than Huawei.
Just a few months ago, Google was hit with an anti-trust regulation for forcing manufacturers to preinstall certain Google apps on Android devices, and charged with a $5 billion fine. As a result, Google had to completely rework its licensing model for Android in Europe. While it still stays alive, the unbundling process has started with various permissions in place for different apps within the Android umbrella. In Russia too, due to a similar case against Google’s Android monopoly, there was an opportunity that got quickly filled by internet giant Yandex’s smartphone.
The effort to infiltrate the automotive industry has not been too successful either- with Android Auto, a mobile app that has been signed on with a number of carmakers – but support is still patchy at best. Its partnership with Volvo and Audi is not doing too great. While the first Android Automotive vehicle — Volvo’s Polestar 2 may hit the roads in 2020, there is a slight hitch. The company has signed an extended deal with Ericsson, for its connected vehicle cloud platform for Volvo’s in-car digital services globally. This may disrupt the partnership with Android, some experts feel.
“Ericsson is providing a highly scalable and global platform for connected services to Volvo Cars,” said Åsa Tamsons, Ericsson’s head of business area technologies, at the time. “By removing complexity in areas such as data legislation and storage management and improving services latency, our platform enhances the overall user experience of Volvo Cars’ connected services.”
So, there are some connects with carmakers for Android Automotive, but Google has not met the success it may have hoped for. The biggest reason could be a hesitancy to hand over control of monetizable data and services to Google.
Meanwhile, Huawei will have to launch its own operating system, but it seems to be preparing for a while. These Huawei phones won’t have access to any of Google’s native apps, such as Maps, Gmail, or YouTube. However, maybe the world is ready for a non-Google app- more importantly, other phone makers will learn from Huawei’s example and be prepared to wean away dependency from Android.
This could, in the long term, hurt Google Android’s market more than it has hurt Huawei. The U.S. tried to truncate the strength Huawei had in the market, but the bigger loser in the long run would be Google, which has been caught in the crossfire.