Huawei to continue security support for Android phones

Huawei to continue security support for Android phones

A 3D printed Android logo is seen in front of a displayed Huawei logo in this illustration picture on May 20, 2019. (Reuters photo)
A 3D printed Android logo is seen in front of a displayed Huawei logo in this illustration picture on May 20, 2019. (Reuters photo)

LONDON: Huawei said on Monday it would continue to provide security updates and services for its smartphones and tablets after being barred from Google updates to its Android operating system.

But it did not say what would happen with phones it would sell in the future, which are unlikely to have access to Google's popular services, including gmail, YouTube and Chrome, unless a special licence is obtained.

"Huawei will continue to provide security updates and after-sales services to all existing Huawei and Honor smartphone and tablet products, covering those that have been sold and that are still in stock globally," a Huawei spokesman said by email.

"We will continue to build a safe and sustainable software ecosystem, in order to provide the best experience for all users globally," said Huawei, which is the world's second-biggest smartphone maker after Samsung and aspires to the top position.

Huawei's devices in its home market do not have Google apps, but the move will hugely damage the brand's appeal to consumers outside China.

Almost half of the 208 million phones Huawei shipped in 2018 went to outside mainland China, and Europe is the most important overseas market where its devices currently have 29% market share, according to technology research firm IDC.

Google said it would enact restrictions on Android updates to Huawei after US President Donald Trump on Thursday added the Chinese company to a trade blacklist, making it extremely difficult for it to do business with US counterparts. "We are complying with the order and reviewing the implications," a Google spokesman said.

A source told Reuters: "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."

Google is assuring users of Huawei smartphones the American company's basic services will work on them.

Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc, said Monday it is complying with and "reviewing the implications'' of the requirement for export licences for technology sales to Huawei Technologies Ltd.

Last week's order follows US government accusations that Huawei, the biggest maker of network gear for phone companies and the No.2 global smartphone brand, is a security risk.

"We assure you while we are complying with all US gov't requirements, services like Google Play & security from Google Play Protect will keep functioning on your existing Huawei device,'' Google said on Twitter.

Google allows smartphone manufacturers to use Android and its basic services for free. Industry analysts say that means they would not be affected by curbs on sales or business interaction.

Transfer of hardware, software or services to Huawei or technical interaction with the Chinese company would be restricted by the US order last week. It took effect Thursday and requires government approval for all purchases of American microchips, software and other components globally by Huawei and 68 affiliated businesses. Huawei says that amounted to $11 billion in goods last year.

The US government says Chinese suppliers, including Huawei and its smaller rival, ZTE Corp, pose an espionage threat because they are legally beholden to China's ruling Communist Party. But American officials have presented no evidence of any Huawei equipment serving as intentional conduits for espionage by Beijing.


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