What happened between Google and Huawei

Huawei-Ban: What actually happened to the ban on Huawei?

For a long time there was new news about the Huawei ban in the USA almost every hour. But then the Chinese smartphone manufacturer suddenly became silent in mid-2020. What has happened since then? Can Huawei now hope for better times with the new US President Joe Biden? An update.

The Chinese technology company has been under constant fire from the US government since mid-2019. There were allegations, threats, restrictions and an order from then-US President Donald Trump that eventually came to be known as Huawei-Ban.

A lot has happened since then. For a while there was a new development of the situation every hour. But then everything suddenly went quiet around Huawei. Well, there was also a pandemic in between, chaos on the stock exchanges and a highly dramatic presidential election in the USA.

But what happened to the Huawei ban? Is it still in force? Could this change with the new US President Joe Biden? We take a look at the current status and recapitulate what actually happened.

Huawei-Ban: espionage rumors and a trade ban

Before the Huawei ban, Huawei was one of the largest telecommunications companies in the world. It had set itself the goal of becoming the largest smartphone manufacturer in the world by 2020. At the beginning of 2019, Huawei was within its grasp of its goal.

Because only Samsung was selling more smartphones at the time and it clearly looked like Huawei would dispute the position of the competitor by the end of the year.

But Huawei did the math without the then US President Trump. Because although Huawei was so successful, the company also had to contend with various allegations. The rumor that Huawei allegedly used its devices to spy on other nations was particularly serious.

So far there is no evidence of this. But because Huawei is a company very close to the Chinese government, the rumors are of course worrying.

Trump finally responded and put Huawei and several other Chinese companies on the Entity List, a US blacklist for banned trading partners, in May 2019.

This means: Companies on the Entity List are not allowed to do business with companies that operate in the United States. In the case of Huawei, this included key trading partners such as Google, Qualcomm, Intel and Microsoft.

This entry on the Entity List marked the beginning of the Huawei ban.

One year grace period

Such a trade freeze with US companies may not seem so dramatic for a Chinese company at first. After all, customers in the USA were and are still allowed to buy and sell Huawei smartphones.

But Huawei devices use Android as their operating system. Android is an open source system and is therefore available to everyone at any time, including companies on the Entity List. But: Google has contributed many important features for app developers and smartphone manufacturers to the Android system.

This of course includes Google's own apps such as YouTube, Gmail, but also the Play Store, where Android users download apps from third-party providers.

And all of these features are legally owned by Google. If you want to use this on your devices, you have to get approval from Google, and that is exactly what was no longer allowed to happen with the Huawei Ban.

Of course, Huawei cell phones can theoretically be operated with the Android system alone. However, this is not very sophisticated compared to Google. Users will also not find all apps on it.

This makes the Huawei devices very limited and unattractive in their use.

But now it was initially the case that the Huawei ban was postponed several times. So until February 2020, the Huawei ban had no noticeable effect. During this time, Huawei had filed several lawsuits, but they were unsuccessful.

Then, in February, the government gave the final 45-day grace period. On April 1, 2020, the full Huawei ban officially came into force.

Huawei had hoped that partner companies like Google would oppose this. But Google announced that the ban would be followed. Both Google and other technology companies have since emphasized that without the ban they would work with Huawei again immediately.

But after Google pushed ahead, other technology companies like Microsoft and Intel joined in.

Huawei needs to get creative

Now Huawei cannot be blamed for having thrown the gun in the grain since April 2020. In fact, the company has shown a great deal of creativity in its business practices.

Own Huawei world

On the one hand, Huawei developed its own operating system, Harmony OS, which was initially only intended for IoT (Internet of Things) devices. Harmony OS is based on the open source software Linux, but according to initial test reports it was not much more sophisticated than Android 10.

It is of course conceivable that Huawei will expand and improve the system in the future and turn it into Huawei OS, which could then be another platform for app manufacturers.

That sounds very theoretical. After all, it is far from easy to develop a smooth smartphone operating system that can compete with Google and Apple. But Huawei would definitely have the financial resources for it.

Huawei has also tried to bring out its own app store, the App Gallery. In order to get app developers to migrate their apps to the gallery, Huawei has invested millions, but so far only with moderate success.

New smartphones

In addition to the new operating system and the App Gallery, Huawei even launched other new smartphone models after the ban, completely Google-free. This includes the Mate 30 devices and finally the Huawei P40 P40 Pro and P40 Pro Plus, which were launched on March 26, 2020.

On October 22, 2020 - Huawei traditionally releases two device series per year - the Mate 40, Mate 40 Pro and Mate 40 Pro Plus were added.

The devices impressed across the board with their hardware. But in the USA experts still advised customers not to buy, due to the defective software.

Trick 17

And then Huawei finally discovered trick 17. It turned out that Google doesn't allow new Android devices because of their design or manufacturer names. Only a few key components are decisive, especially the processor.

Huawei processors that were developed before the May 2019 cut-off date could therefore continue to allow Google to use the Google features without any problems.

Huawei simply packed the old processors of the P30 Pro devices in new cases and launched two “new” smartphones with the Google Android system.

These smartphones came legally on the US market in 2020 under the name “Huawei P30 Pro New Edition”.

With all these efforts, Huawei could still not be really successful in the USA. Nevertheless, the company managed to briefly overtake Samsung. The reason for this are the Chinese customers, who love Huawei and have made extremely strong sales.

In the meantime, Samsung has risen to number one among the smartphone manufacturers. But Huawei is anything but on the ground.

Nevertheless, the situation in the USA is slowly becoming a problem for Huawei.

Huawei-Ban: no end in sight

Because even with a new US president, there seems to be no end in sight for the Huawei ban. After all, the ban was not unilaterally pronounced at the time. In fact, it was a unified Republican and Democratic decision.

Since the elections, Huawei has already asked Biden for an interview. But so far there seems to have been no meeting. Biden's economic program for the USA also seems to continue to rely on “America First” in order to rebuild the country's economy, which has been hit by Corona.

Chinese smartphone manufacturers are certainly not very high on his to-do list. However, the Chinese group is an important trading partner for many suppliers and technology groups. So there could possibly be movement in the future.

But so far all signs seem to have come to a standstill. So Huawei has to slowly draw the first conclusions.

Huawei decided in November 2020 to part with its subsidiary Honor. Honor is itself a very successful Chinese smartphone manufacturer, but it was also affected by the Huawei ban due to its connection to the parent company.

After the sale, this association fell away and Honor even launched its first smartphone after the split in January 2021, the Honor V40, which is currently only available on the Chinese market.

Huawei will be able to concentrate more on its own products with less “ballast”. If the company really wants it, it is not unlikely that Huawei, like Apple, will come out with its own technology universe. And then the Huawei ban would be irrelevant.

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Huawei can do this without question. But will it happen fast enough to stop the impending losses and the high damage to your image?

It remains exciting.

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