Alphabet’s Google has suspended business with Huawei Technologies Co (華為) that requires the transfer of hardware, software and technical services except those publicly available via open source licensing, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters on Sunday, in a blow to the Chinese technology company that the US government has sought to blacklist around the world.
However, holders of current Huawei smartphones with Google apps would continue to be able to use and download app updates provided by Google, a Google spokesperson said, confirming earlier reporting by Reuters.
“We are complying with the order and reviewing the implications,” the Google spokesperson said.
“For users of our services, Google Play and the security protections from Google Play Protect will continue to function on existing Huawei devices,” the spokesperson said, without giving further details.
The suspension could hobble Huawei’s smartphone business outside China, as the tech giant would immediately lose access to updates to Google’s Android operating system.
Future versions of Huawei smartphones that run on Android 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,” the source said.
US President Donald Trump’s administration on 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 US Department of Commerce on Friday said it was considering scaling back restrictions on Huawei to “prevent the interruption of existing network operations and equipment.”
The extent to which Huawei could be hurt by the US government’s blacklist is not yet known as its global supply chain assesses the impact. Chip experts have questioned its ability to continue to operate without help from the US.
Details of the specific services affected by the suspension were still being discussed internally at Google, according to the source.
Huawei said it would continue to provide security updates and service, and it defended itself yesterday as “one of Android’s key global partners.”
The company said it helped to develop a system that “benefited both users and the industry.”
“We will continue to build a safe and sustainable software ecosystem, in order to provide the best experience for all users globally,” Huawei said in a statement.
Chipmakers including Intel Corp, Qualcomm, Xilinx and Broadcom have told their employees they would not supply critical software and components to Huawei until further notice, Bloomberg reported late on Sunday, citing people familiar with the matter.
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, which is available for free to anyone who wishes to use it.
However, Google will stop providing Huawei with access, technical support and collaboration involving its proprietary apps and services going forward, the source said.
Huawei has said it has spent the past 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.
Popular Google apps such as Gmail, YouTube and the Chrome browser that are available through Google’s Play Store would disappear from future Huawei handsets, as those services are not covered by the open source license and require a commercial agreement with Google.
However, users of existing Huawei devices who have access to the Google Play Store would 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.
In Beijing, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Lu Kang (陸慷) said the ministry had noticed the report and would look into it and pay attention to developments.
“At the same time, China supports Chinese companies to use legal weapons to defend their legitimate rights,” he added, but did not elaborate.
Additional reporting by AP
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