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Huawei could survive without Android, but it wouldn't be beautiful

The US government may have banned Huawei from using software or hardware manufactured by US companies but China's massive phone manufacturer is defiant that the lack of US partner support will not break the mark even though its traditionally Android-based devices cut off from Android while Google interrupts business relationships following President Trump's executive order.

No stranger to tensions with the US government Huawei has proven that does not need US airlines to grow its business . Huawei is the world's largest provider of network equipment and the second largest phone brand. The tech giant has allegedly worked on his own operating system as an alternative to Android software (and his own Huawei app store ) if relations with US companies go south. And to the south it is. Today, Huawei was suspended from the Wi-Fi Alliance and removed from the SD Association, as set out guidelines for SD memory cards used in phones and other devices.

"Our company will not end up with an extreme supply shortage. We are well equipped," says Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei to Chinese journalists this week. "At the beginning of this year, I predicted that such a thing would occur … We thought we would have two years to prepare. But then [Huawei CFO] Meng Wanzhou was arrested it all went out. "

This is not surprising. Huawei has been in the US government for many years and a de facto ban in 201

2 (some might call it a strong call) to effectively keep Huawei phones from US carriers despite past conditions there.

But a look at the current smartphone market reveals how the company could fail if it tries To go alone, Android and iOS make up a duopoly, with 86% of all the world's phones running on Android, according to IDC, about 14% running on iPhone's iOS and 0% running on anyone other platform.

The days when three, four and even five mobile operating systems fought for dominance are far behind us and the last holdouts – Windows Phone BlackBerry OS and WebOS – have long crumpled or converted for Android.

Even competitor Samsung, who poured money into his own open source Tizen operating system (as you see on Samsung smartwatches like Galaxy Watch Active), could not make a meaningful scent. Huawei's chances of creating a third operating system will be most successful in his home country in China, where it sells 50% of 60% of its total phones (estimates vary from source to page).

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On a non-China market, such as Europe, Australia, the Middle East and Latin America, an operating system that does not fully support Android means customers need to say goodbye to staples like Gmail, Google Maps, and Google Assistant.

"The operating system is less an immediate problem for Huawei than the lack of Google applications," said Ben Wood, chief or research at CCS Insight, in a report on the situation. "There is no doubt that Huawei needs access to entire Google Apps and services, which is critical to success in Western markets."

Temporary disconnected means that Huawei and Google can still work together to keep current Huawei Android phones like Huawei P30 Pro supplied with security updates and Google's Android services through August 19. But losing Google's Android support for future phones could spell disaster for Huawei's business and affect the global smartphone market as a whole.

"We expect trade war to threaten a potential 5% drop in global mobile phone shipments in 2019," Wood said.

Read : All you need to know about the Huawei Controversy

Huawei does not need Android, but the alternatives would not be easy

Huawei phones in China already operate without Google apps and services even though Android makes the foundation. Google search and other software services are blocked in China . Even on Android-based phones, Google Play Services and other apps won't work.

This means that Huawei phones in their home market are already using alternative apps and software for maps, mail and videos. There are no Google Maps, Google Search, Google Assistant, Gmail or YouTube. Security services such as Google Play Protect and software that sync contacts and offline services also get uncomfortable.

Even on Huawei and Honor phones selling outside China, Huawei, like many brands, uses a homemade user interface. In the case of Huawei, Emotion indicates UI (EMUI) icons across home screens, making the software interface look more like iOS than Android in some respects.

If these devices already operate under their own set of rules, it is easy to see how Huawei could tear off Band-Aid and go it alone. Ren said Huawei has between 80,000 and 90,000 R&D engineers across the company, some of whom are preparing for "Plan B" or, as CEO called them "reserve tires."

"I'm not sure consumers want a third OS," says Carolina Milanesi, a Creative Strategies analyst. "It certainly wouldn't help in the US, but it could make a difference in Europe as long as they get developers to port, and they can still get Google services that I think is the most difficult part."

Although Huawei was to move forward, a Huawei OS is far from clear, "reported the information. The internal software project" has had its ups and downs and remains far from clear, "sources said the publication.

Friday The Wall Street Journal reported that Huawei had received the "Hongmeng" trademark for its operating system from the Chinese National Intellectual Property Management, after working on it under the internal code name "Project Z."

It is unlikely that Huawei would have an immediate replacement if the US government's ban continues on future phones.

What about foldable phones?

Google support also has a hand in folding phones. Huawei did not announce what operating system it uses on the collapsible Mate X slated for a summer release, but Google has worked closely with foldable phone manufacturers providing softwa re that helps apps that move fast from a smaller screen orientation to the larger screen as it unfolds and back again.

It is not clear whether to be cut off from Google will delay Huawei's ability to compete with Samsung on this next front of smartphone competition.

Samsung refused to comment.

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Open source solution does not solve Huawei's app problem

Of course, Huawei could continue to base phones on Android, even without Google's active partnership. AOSP, the Android Open Source Project, is free code for anyone to use. But going this route would put Huawei's months behind. Losing early access to new operating systems is built up as Android Q, regular security patches and technical support.

Remember that the US Commerce Department scaled down some restrictions to allow Android support for existing Huawei and Honor brand phones. It's the future phones – like the Huawei Mate 30 or P40 Pro – that are in balance here.

"There are solutions in international markets, but none are attractive, as Google services are so ubiquitous," said Wayne Lam, chief analyst at IHS Markit. "One thought is that Huawei can let boot loader unlock and deliver sales staff / techs tools to blink again on the ROM to bypass the Google brand, but it has challenges alone."


Huawei P30 Pro has stronger camera tools than Samsung Galaxy S10 Plus.

Angela Lang / CNET

If global buyers of future Huawei phones were to side-load apps and games from US companies instead of downloading them directly from any app store, even Huawei's, there is little doubt that they would turn customers off. that eventually left the Windows Phone and BlackBerry OS because they could not provide the apps and services that Android and iOS could.

"There are so many hoops to jump and so much uncertainty for a consumer who eventually has alternatives," Milanesi said.

It is likely that Huawei customers outside of China would move beyond the Google App Store and services.

Read : Huaweis problems are good for Samsung

Should we even come to this point?

There is a chance that China and the US government will solve the problem before it gets to the head. President Trump has already said that he would consider using Huawei as a lever in a trade deal with China which means that Huawei could be reunited with its old businesses.

The US government has already softened its stance on protecting consumers who own Huawei phones. The Chinese brand ZTE was also cut off from its US suppliers in 2018 to get only brought out of Trump in a tweet when the company ended.

"The goal of the Trump administration is to exact concessions from China on trade – especially their handling of IP," Lam said. "Whether or not the Trump administration can pull this out, it is suspected, but given that next year is an election year, I would foresee that this trade conflict should be resolved in the near future."

"Unfortunately, Huawei is hoping for a quick return on business as usual," Wood said.

Huawei did not comment on this story.

Originally posted May 23 at 9:28 pm PT.
Update, 12:29 PT : Adds that Huawei and Samsung refused to comment.
Update May 24 at. 18:21 PT : Adds report on Hongmeng trademark.
Update, May 24 at. : Adds report to be removed from the Wi-Fi Alliance and SD Association.
Update, May 25 at. 04.00 PT :
Adds report on leverage in China Trade Deal.

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