Report: Google Suspends Business with Huawei

Posted on May 19, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Android with 108 Comments

An explosive report in Reuters claims that Google has suspended business with Huawei following its blacklisting by the U.S. government. If true, this could mark the end of Huawei’s smartphone and smart devices business.

“Google has suspended business with Huawei that requires the transfer of hardware and software products except those covered by open source licenses, a source close to the matter told Reuters on Sunday, in a blow to the Chinese technology company that the U.S. government has sought to blacklist around the world,” the Reuters report claims.

As a result, Huawei will lose access to Android updates immediately. Future Huawei smartphones and devices will not be able to provide the Google Play Store or Google’s core smartphone apps like Gmail, Maps, and Calendar. And Google will no longer support its Android apps and services for the firm.

“Details of the specific services were still being discussed internally at Google, according to the source,” the report continues.

It appears that Huawei will only have access to the open source parts of Android, which is called AOSP (Android Open Source Project), going forward. This will effectively kill its smartphones and related efforts, which rely especially on the Google Play Store, Google’s app store.

This is problematic on a number of levels, unless you’re Samsung or Apple, I guess: Huawei was poised to leapfrog Samsung to become the number one smartphone maker in the world sometime this coming year. And it already makes the best smartphones in the world: Its latest flagship, the Huawei P30 Pro, has the single highest-rated smartphone, with 5x optical zoom and unparalleled picture quality.

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Comments (108)

108 responses to “Report: Google Suspends Business with Huawei”

  1. jbinaz

    Why? Is the U.S. government presurring Google to do this? If so, I can't imagine they would easily accede to the government's request, especially the Trump administration, given the left leaning nature of most tech companies.

    If they're being pressured, I'd be curious to know what the government is using for leverage.

    Or, does Google see Huawei as a threat, and is using the government as cover?

    Or, is Google privy to security info that makes them realize Huawei is a threat to U.S. national security?

    Or is Google just xenophobic?

    This action brings about so many questions.

    • evox81

      In reply to jbinaz:

      You're overcomplicating it a bit. Being blacklisted in this context means the company is barred from doing business with any US company (conversely, this also means US companies are barred from doing business with them). Google is just following the law.

    • SvenJ

      In reply to jbinaz: So here is the way Rueters reports it.
      The Commerce Department issued a rule, promised on Wednesday, putting Huawei and 68 affiliates in more than two dozen countries on its so-called Entity List, a move that bans the company from buying parts and components from American firms without U.S. government approval.

      The "Entity List" exists already, detailing companies that cannot do business with US companies and vice versa. This would apply to all US companies. The US government isn't pressuring Google specifically. This applies to AT&T and others buying Huawei networking gear, or if there are American patents being leased by Huawei as well.

  2. ruusterc

    i dont support alot of what the current administration does but i do support banning huwaii in the US my question is could google still supply android to huwaii for other countrys where huwaii isnt banned like for instance in canada

    • truerock2

      In reply to ruusterc:

      So, I was watching this PBS story about a US wholesaler of lobster who has been selling to China - and the wholesaler is probably going to go out of business. China is now buying the same lobster from wholesalers in Canada. PBS didn't mention where the lobsters where coming from.

      Two takeaways from this...

      1. The trade war is going to get complicated.
      2. Canada and Mexico are going to play a very important role.

      In the context of the trade war, I can't imagine how Google selling product to the Chinese government in non-Chinese countries is going to help the US efforts in the trade war.

      If Canada and Mexico play this war correctly, they could ultimately become huge beneficiaries.

  3. melinau

    Gosh. A so-called independent company doing what it's told by the leader of its nation's government. Anyone else get the irony?

  4. garrygbain

    COME ON MICROSOFT, offer your Windows Mobile OS and you'll soon be #1. A match made in heaven :)

  5. dontbe evil

    I'll be glad to buy a degoogled huawei phone out of the box

    • wright_is

      In reply to dontbe_evil:

      Yes. It wouldn't bother me if all the Google services disappeared - apart from Google Play, all the Google services are deactivated or uninstalled on my phones. All I am really interested in is regular security updates - and according to Google, current devices will continue to get security updates through AOSP and the Play Store, just no version upgrades and new devices will have to use a non-Google OS - E.g. AOSP + Huawei services (or Alibaba or whatever).

  6. My Hell baby speaking

    Very unfortunate. I enjoy using a Mate 20 in Germany, having overlooked the Iran accusations (although I agree with Trump on cancelling the nuclear deal and on isolating the Iranian regime); furthermore I was not quite convinced of the spying stuff - if anything I would prefer a government not ruling over me to spy on me.

    So, a bit easygoing on my side I guess.

  7. wright_is

    I will be interested to see how this pans out, going forward. Huawei makes great hardware and I already disable all Google services, except Play Store on my devices...

  8. Vladimir Carli

    Are the AOSP devices "rooted" by default? If that's the case, what would prevent any Huawei user from just downloading any unofficial android rom and use it on a Huawei device with all google services activated?

  9. ragingthunder

    This just reiterates the need for a third major ecosystem that's not controlled by the US government. Something out of Japan/Korea/China perhaps.

    • truerock2

      In reply to ragingthunder:

      Good point... I vote for any of the Nordic countries... Iceland? Norway?

      Just a good basic Linux build with all of the basic applications.

      Out of China? You are insane. Out of Korea? Bizarre use of geographic terminology - I assume you are from North Korea or China?

      I know there are a lot of good Linux distros out there, we just need one with enough traction as a unbiased alternative to Apple, Google, Microsoft, etc.

      I have nothing against Apple, Google and Microsoft - I use their products - a lot. I rarely use Linux - but, I would love to have a really good Linux home server so I would have autonomous control over my files, email, etc... I just feel creepy turning over my stuff to Microsoft and Apple "clouds" (I used to use Google - but, that just got too weird).

      Now, the latest thing is every home security camera company wants to make you pay a monthly fee to keep videos and picture in their cloud and won't provide a way to keep them on your own PCs.

      Screw that.

      • hz10

        In reply to truerock2:

        In terms of home security camera, we seem to live in different worlds. Most IP cameras that I know (at least everyone of the half a dozen that I have) allows one to use any app supporting international standards such as RTSP, ONVIF to stream from them, hence you can record on a PC, tablet, phone. Some of mine have the option to store in the cloud as you described, but that is just an option one can ignore.

      • wright_is

        In reply to truerock2:

        Why North Korea? Most of the tech in the region comes out of China, South Korea or Japan. Not sure how the heck you got to North Korea...

        There are plenty of easy to use Linux based NAS systems and home server distributions out there.

    • lvthunder

      In reply to ragingthunder:

      Then they need to get coding.

  10. PeteB

    Good riddance

  11. dcdevito

    I guess Mr. YouKnowWho thought Huawei was a Bad Hombre

  12. siv

    I am concerned how this will affect me. I have the Huawei P20 Pro and use loads of Google services, especially Photos and Drive. Does this mean even though I am in the UK they will block me using that phone to access the Google services as this could be a big blow!?

    • wright_is

      In reply to Siv:

      No, you shouldn't be blocked from using Google services. But the Huawei apps will no longer get updated through the Play Store (you'll probably have to go through the Huawei App Gallery) and security updates might slow down - most of the problems in the base level, the common code between Google Android and AOSP will still be able to be quickly patches, as it is open source. Any bugs in Google Android code (the layer with Google Services on top of AOSP), but not in Apps in the app store will probably not get updated.

      edit: Existing devices will continue to get Google Play and Google Play Protect support, according to the Android Twitter account. Security updates will continue for the devices, but no more version upgrades (the current devices are stuck on Android P, they won't get Q) and all new devices will have to use a different operating system.

      • siv

        In reply to wright_is:

        Thanks for your reply, I was begining to think that I was going to end up with a very nice paperweight! I am not too worried about getting Android Q if I can still access my Google services.

  13. bob_shutts

    Now that’s a g....d...... shame.

  14. nickysreensaver

    Couldnt happen to a nicer company ! The video the person posed in the standard comments

    If the video just shows the surface, can you imagine what amount of tech they stole over the last 10 years. Insane. And FYI I rather hang with the standard comment crowd, They are so much more colorful in posts!

  15. christian.hvid

    If this blacklisting is expanded to include other Chinese manufacturers like Xiaomi and OnePlus, then Samsung will essentially own the entire Android market outside of China. Is this what your government intended? And what happens if and when you end up in a trade war with South Korea?

    I'm pretty sure Google isn't all that happy about this development, but there is a way around it: they could license Play, YouTube, Maps and all the other services directly to end users, allowing Huawei and others to ship AOSP devices with a button that says "click here to install Google services". Of course, the tricky part is to get consumers to pay outright for licenses that are normally bundled with the phone. But retailers could solve this by including vouchers that cover the cost for three years or so.

  16. gilesrm

    Consternation in Europe, where Huawei is the market leader for smartphones. Millions will no longer see their phone updated. The EU Commission in Brussels considers secondary sanctions as illegal under international law and may sue Google.

    On the matter of 5G networks, the EU has decided not to ban Huawei, in the absence of any concrete evidence of backdoors, etc, provided by the Trump administration, but to put it under surveillance.

  17. james_wilson

    Whether you like it or not, Trump had the b to stand up to China. China charge huge import taxes on Western goods making them unaffordable. The same is'nt true in reverse. See here

    For Western countries (read the US) to be competive, they need a fair playing field. Trump is doing that. That's a side thing. The Huawei issue is different. I don't know about US law but sanctions should apply to a country or company and not just a product line. As such, the US has to sanction Huawei as a whole.

  18. poppapete

    Was just about to replace my Galaxy 7 with a Pro 30, not now. Had just advised my Granddaughter that IMHO the best laptop for her was a MateBook X Pro but I don't see how Microsoft won't be forced to do to W10 what Google has done to Android. This will hurt Huawei at first but if it continues it will force Huawei to develop its own OS's which may come back to bite the US companies.

  19. skane2600

    If in fact existing Huawei phones stop being able to access Google services I see a big potential for a class-action suit against Google and the US Government. The constitutional power of the government to essentially brick your phone without any evidence of a security issue is doubtful.

    • j_c

      In reply to skane2600:

      There will be little recourse in America. The US government has broad powers to regulate trade. Protectionism was the default trade policy in the US until after WW2. There are several countries and entities American corporations are blocked from doing business with. This is no different.

      I don’t feel for Europe which has been on a vendetta against all these tech companies and Google specifically anyway. Google is following government regulation that was handed down to them. Exactly the end result the EU and Britain are looking for with their own laws.

      Google services are for the most part banned or extremely watered down in China. It is apropos that their companies would be banned from exporting what they refuse to embrace. What’s sauce for the goose.

      There aren’t many sympathetic parties here including consumers. All of us have been supporting the growth of an authoritarian regime, buying what are close to slave labored goods. Time to rip the band aid off and decide what kind of a world we actually want to live in and not give everything away for some overpriced gadgets and trinkets.

      • wright_is

        In reply to j_c:

        What vendetta? The US companies, like Google, come over and ignore local laws and act all surprised when they get pulled up for breaking the law...

      • hz10

        In reply to j_c:

        Great points.

        There should be a way to take good care of existing Huawei Phone users. I would assume it is doable technically and legally. It just needs the administration and Google working together to figure it out with a little bit of wisdom.

      • skane2600

        In reply to j_c:

        We bought our phone when there was no government ban so the trade occurred before any ban was proclaimed. This is simply a matter of the government interfering with the use of a completely legal and legitimate device, If you believe that any time in history the US government degraded an already purchased product please cite a source.

        • hz10

          In reply to skane2600:

          There is a 90-day delay. I think/hope Google and Huawei will figure out a good way to take care of existing users in the next three months.

          • skane2600

            In reply to hz10:

            Nothing significant can be done in 90 days. I believe that the 90 days will pass and the administration will find an excuse to extend it further. The only legitimate way to be fair to customers would be for the government to give a full refund for the cost of any products that have been rendered "obsolete" by the ban.

            • wright_is

              In reply to skane2600:

              And that is hundreds of millions of phones and PCs world wide.

              Not to mention 45% of US telcos already have Huawei kit in their infrastructure, which would no longer be serviceable or get security updates, and all the telcos around the world that the US government would be putting at risk.

              The advertisement of this ban is: don't buy American! Don't use an US based operating system, don't use US based cloud services, don't buy any products that rely on components from US manufacturers.

  20. rm

    If Microsoft bundled all of its apps like Microsoft Launcher and Outlook, I bet Huawei would be selling the same amount of phones. They are already partners. However, maybe Microsoft would be getting themselves into something they don't want any part of . . .

    What I think is really happening here is Trump is putting pressure on China to end the trade war. Then they will de-blacklist Huawei.

  21. hz10

    Just want to point out two facts as background for discussion:

    1. China is a police state under the CCP with massive surveillance. Over 1 million in concentration camps by now.
    2. Companies like Huawei have intimate connections with the regime in carrying out the surveillance. Much more importantly, EVERY company in Mainland China must obey the CCP's order at any moment with absolutely no exception.

    BTW, China Central Television (CCTV) has been playing an anti-American feature movie or documentary every day for quite a few days now. Not sure how long this anti-American movie festival will last. Trump has repeatedly said emperor Xi is his good friend. The CCP has been fairly open in regarding the West as its enemy.

    • aretzios

      In reply to hz10: It was not that long ago that Microsoft was accused for spying for the US government! Let's keep that in mind. Yes, the Chinese regime is not a liberal democratic one, but this has never been an issue before. Let's keep that in mind, as well.
      What is happening is that the US is worried that, in the current course of events, it would be supplanted by China as the dominant world economy by 2030, at the latest. Thus, the US is taking "measures" to restrict the rise of China. My personal feeling is that these measures would have limited effect; they may actually, at the end, harm the US more than China. This may happen in a couple of ways: (a) direct loss of the Chinese market; (b) China is forced to develop its own digital standards (in Operating Systems and other services); the Chinese products, due to pricing advantages, get hold in lots of other markets, displacing US products and services.
      China, although it is a repressive state, is not the USSR in terms of technological prowess. It may be quite successful in getting its own standards established and that would not be to the US's advantage.

      • hz10

        In reply to aretzios:

        It has been an issue for a long time along with IP theft, etc., but there were not dealt seriously until the current administration for various reasons. Comparing a company like Microsoft spying for the government is like comparing NYPD with some police power abuse cases with SS running concentration camps.


        Netherlands is about 1/80 of China in terms population. I remember Balmer said Microsoft generated more revenue from Netherlands than China where you see Microsoft software - Windows, Office, SQL server - everywhere. Just one case to show the massive IP theft.


        The labor in Vietnam, Philippines, Thailand, Mexico and many other countries is cheaper than China now. This is one of the reasons many companies are moving out of China to get pricing advantages.


  22. nobody9

    Huawei won't be leapfrogging anyone, regardless of what "specs" the offer. Huawei handsets, like most, still lack Titan M-like features, and Huawei's public-trust is still bottom of the barrel.

  23. llewen

    This might end up blowing up in the face of the U.S. tech industry. Huawei is set to become the largest producer of mobile technology in the world, with privileged access to what is likely to become the single largest market for mobile technology in the world, and a distinct market advantage, in terms of access, to what is already the largest extended market for mobile technology in the word, Asia.

    So now the Trump administration has essentially forced them to develop their own OS and software ecosystem. Is he stupid enough to imagine they aren't capable of doing that, and perhaps doing it better than their American competitors? Huawei's hardware is already the best in the world, does the Trump administration imagine they can't also produce a high quality OS and software ecosystem?

    Perhaps there is a good reason for all this. Perhaps Huawei is in fact spying on behalf of the Chinese government. That is as likely as U.S. tech firms engaged in espionage on behalf of the U.S. government, which is to say, highly likely. Having said that, I can't help but feel that the loser at the end of all this will be the U.S. economy, but perhaps the real winner in the long term will be the consumer in a world where there is greater, and higher quality, competition.

    • truerock2

      In reply to llewen:

      So, you have been on Paul's board for 3 weeks. You probably work for the Chinese government. Your conclusions are incorrect and based on illogical premises.

      Sure - it would be great if the trade war situation went away - in the short term. In the longer term view - in my opinion - the US has no choice but to follow through with it even though it is going to be a negative situation for all that are involved - just as in any war (except perhaps war profiteers).

      In the longer term, I'm guessing that other countries (not China or the US) will benefit from all of this - if they understand how to take advantage of it... in my opinion.

  24. gardner

    This will harm Microsoft and Google significantly. If the president of the united states can decide to make a company stop using an operating system, then operating system development will move outside the united states as no company will be able to rely on any US company as a reliable partner.

    I can see no reason that Microsoft Windows's partnerships would be treated any differently, so expect that China might become a significant source of competition to Android and Microsoft Windows in order to reduce reliance on the US.

    Nothing like the US government making US products less attractive abroad for votes.

  25. Vladimir Carli

    What about Microsoft? In theory they should be bound by the same restrictions and Huawei laptops should not be able to be bundled with Windows. Is this the case?

  26. Andi

    This kills Huawei's international efforts. It's a blatant protectionist measure. Huawei's smartphones were never the source of any controversy. The telecom arm was the one with issues. It's ridiculous how baseless accusations are used as a pretence to destroy a company.

    • Winner

      In reply to Andi:

      And you know they are baseless how? Please show me the intel on that.

      I have similar concerns but I would not claim it's baseless if I didn't have the data myself.

      • Andi

        In reply to Winner:

        Maybe I was being naive but the US always were extremely precise with their sanctions and retaliatory in nature. This time this feels like the US is comfortable outright preemptively striking and harming collateral targets to achieve a higher goal.

      • skane2600

        In reply to Winner:

        A claim without evidence presented is baseless by definition. In the case of smartphones I don't think the government has even made a claim.

  27. harmjr

    This is going to lead two Huawei creating its own OS and over the next 10 years it will probably become the dominant OS in Asia. With Alibaba providing all of the store type services. In the end this is going to kill American cell phone business in Asia.

  28. waethorn

    This is why I said buying a Huawei phone would be a mistake.

  29. brduffy

    Well they can still create their own services and app store to try and compete in their own market. If MS is any indication then this will be the end of their market in the US

    • Andi

      In reply to brduffy:

      Huawei does have their own services in China, they don't in the US, EU and the rest of the world. This action kills Huawei smartphones for us in Europe.

      • wright_is

        In reply to Andi:

        It depends, Existing models will continue to be supported, so no need to throw the phones away just yet. And there is nothing to stop them rolling out their own services to other countries.

  30. Jhambi

    Vice just did a short piece on Huawei and it just reaffirms how shady they are :

    • Greg Green

      In reply to Jhambi:

      The part where they’re pulling microphones from under the table was hilarious.

      No we don’t do any spying, now excuse my assistant while she retrieves the microphone from under the table.

      And the Senior VP never asked if the other execs belong to the Party because she knows they do. They wouldn’t be there if they didn’t belong to the party.

    • waethorn

      In reply to Jhambi:

      As a general unwritten rule in China: you don't ask about "The Party". Any responses any person gives in-country should be taken with a grain of salt. The CEO is a party member. That's reason enough to believe the rhetoric.

      • cyberherbalist

        In reply to Jhambi:

        "As a general unwritten rule in China: you don't ask about "The Party". Any responses any person gives in-country should be taken with a grain of salt. The CEO is a party member. That's reason enough to believe the rhetoric."

        Not only a party member but a former Army officer. If that is significant, I don't know.

  31. SupaPete

    If that really gets done, yes, it would basically kill Huawei's Android efforts totally. An Android phone without the google play store would not be selling well right now in most parts of the world.

    They can make their own Android AOSP version OS or whatever, but without apps people care about in most countries, not a big chance.

    No matter what one thinks about Huawei or not, it sets a very negative precedent for any US company though and US government, i mean this is really extremely negative for the reputation of any US company internationally, makes it come off like hey, if you grow a too big competitor, we or our government will do everything to shut you down.

    One can bring forward any arguments one wants, it just comes off as the destruction of an open fair market.

    If you feel like they did something illegal, present your proof in a lawsuit and get them punished to the max legally, more power to you.

    But if you can't, then sorry, this comes off as sleazy way to manipulate the market.

    A few years ago, i would not have moaned about something like this, back then the Chinese manufacturers making their own phones very clearly copied the iPhone or Samsung phones while being worse crappier copies all around.

    But now? The Huawei P30 clearly has many very good unique aspects and is even clearly superior to many other phones on many ends, and then they get basically taken away as option for consumers to buy.

    Sorry, where is the legal basis for this if there is no lawsuit against them?

    • lvthunder

      In reply to SupaPete:

      If you read the order that puts this into effect you will not see company names. It is about China and not so much Huawei specifically.

    • truerock2

      In reply to SupaPete:

      So, sure... you have repeated the Chinese government talking points right off the front page of the English-language "China Daily" newspaper I receive each week. You really need to run your posts through a grammar checker, though. And that is fine if you want to represent the Chinese government's point of view - nothing wrong with that.

      But, Americans have been complaining about specific unfair market practices in China for decades. But, oddly... no one has really ever done much about it.

      There is no reason that the US and China cannot negotiate their differences within the context of a trade war - in my opinion.

    • Bibbit

      In reply to SupaPete: ...if you grow a too big competitor, we or our government will do everything to shut you down

      Exactly! That's why the US does everything in its power to crush Samsung. Oh, wait, they don't hassle Samsung? Well, what are they waiting for?

    • Stokkolm

      In reply to SupaPete:

      I'm doubtful that Google would do this if they didn't think that there was some merit to the US Government's findings about Huawei.

      • Paul Thurrott

        In reply to Stokkolm:

        That is literally untrue. Merit means nothing. The blacklisting is law.

        • Andi

          In reply to paul-thurrott:

          It is indeed law but it's also ridiculous. Especially since the smartphones themselves are completely benign. One would assume that in the same way the US gov worked with ZTE to get them sorted out, they(the gov) could except the smartphone business and hammer the telecom arm.

          • wright_is

            In reply to Andi:

            By the US Government's arguments, nobody outside the USA should ever buy from Cisco, HPE etc. for exactly the same reasons that the US is claiming against Huawei - with the one exception that the US has actually been caught manipulating hardware coming from US manufacturers; and Cisco has spent the last 18 months removing 1 backdoor after another from its devices - another one just last week.

            • lvthunder

              In reply to wright_is:

              If you read the order it only talks about China. It doesn't mention company names. This order isn't about Huawei specifically. These tech companies know they aren't getting a fair deal from China.

  32. Tom Wilson

    Sounds like the chickens are coming home to roost in China.

    How long was the rest of the world going to look the other way while China steals our technology hand over foot?

    Not to mention the Human rights abuses.

    Companies like Apple should be ashamed of themselves. Netting outside the windows to keep workers from killing themselves?But then when you're making 40% profit on every iphone, I guess it's easy to look the other way. "Shareholder Value" is the only thing that matters, after all.

    Trump is actually doing the right thing with China.

    Somebody had to step up and try to put an end to their shameful behavior.

    • skane2600

      In reply to Tom Wilson:

      As far as human rights are concerned we deal with multiple countries with bad human rights records. In India for example a Muslim is lynched just about every week and it looks like nationalistic government that has done nothing to stop it is going to be in power for at least another 5 years after the recent election.

    • pbelo

      In reply to Tom Wilson:

      China is exporting a model of society that nobody should support. Its a major economic fraud that destroys the chain of value

  33. shmuelie

    As evox81 said, this is Google (for once?) following the law. Not sure it's a doomsday event for Huawei though. I'm sure they've seen this coming and have plans.

  34. F4IL

    If Huawei get blacklisted by the U.S, does that mean they won't be shipping laptops with Windows? If this is the case, shouldn't people just start looking for open source alternatives that can't be banned or backdoored by governments?

  35. madthinus

    Huawei is not ZTE, ZTE did not have Huawei's size nor market share. They can and have build an alternative to Android based on ASOP. I suspect that they have a store already in China as most of the Android market in Asia is build around third party stores. They have their own chips and modems, might not be as fast as Qualcomm, but I bet this move by the US will probably be worst for them long term.

    • wright_is

      In reply to madthinus:

      Huawei already announced at the beginning of the year that they had an alternative OS in the wings, in case the USA pulled a number like this. It will be interesting to see what they have to offer.

      As long as my Mate 10 Pro keeps getting security updates, even if it is on an AOSP version of Android, I don't really care.

      They already have a store on all their phones (Huawei App Gallery). I'm guessing the built-in apps will switch to getting their updates through that instead of Google Play.

  36. datameister

    I guess the only way they could really counter this would be to make an Android One model and then open source the drivers?