It’s been a while since the tech world has seen a story so complex and with such serious and far-reaching implications as this.
Even when the P30 Pro was launched, Huawei didn’t dominate the headlines as it has over the past few weeks while it battles against serious threats to its business.
Some may think this story began recently but the truth is, this has been battling away under the surface for years. The US has long considered the Chinese firm a threat to national security.
The accusations that Huawei could exploit alleged backdoors in its network infrastructure on behalf of the Chinese government for espionage actually stopped the Mate 20 Pro from launching in the U.S at the beginning of 2018 after deals with networks fell apart due to government pressure.
The U.S meanwhile continued to call Huawei a threat to national security. An accusation that so far has not been backed up by any evidence shown to the public and one which Huawei has consistently denied saying it will not and will never implant backdoors.
Fast-forward to 2019 and the situation escalated. In January, the US Justice Department filed criminal charges against Huawei accusing it of stealing technology from T-mobile and also alleged that two companies said to be tied with Huawei, along with Huawei CFO Wanzhou Meng who was arrested in Canada at the end of 2018, violated sanctions by clearing transactions with Iran.
While Huawei responded by filing a lawsuit against the US government stating that it was unconstitutional to block Huawei from selling its products and equipment in the U.S.
At the same time, foreign governments came under pressure from the U.S not to use Huawei equipment for their 5G infrastructure with the UK currently still undecided about the firm’s level of involvement in it soon to launch 5G Network.
If all this wasn’t serious enough, on May 15th the US Department of Commerce added Huawei to its entity list. This prohibits the company from acquiring US made parts, components and other products from US companies without government approval. This sent shockwaves through the tech world and caught everybody’s attention.
Huawei situation was no longer just about national security and allegations of spying. It has suddenly become a serious piece of leverage in a large politically motivated trade war between the US and China.
Google was the first to comply with the ruling, without the ability to purchase Google licences Huawei would not have access to crucial Android security updates or potentially Google services for future devices.
At this point, the drastic move was quickly revised by the US government and a temporary general license was issued until August 19th allowing Huawei to maintain existing commitments and purchase licenses for existing products.
Intel, Qualcomm and perhaps most importantly ARM have also complied with this ruling. ARM is key because its processor architecture is used to build the Kirin mobile processor used in almost all Huawei smartphones including the p30 pro and the Mate 5G folding phone.
Without a license to use ARMs architecture, without a license to use Google services on Android or the ability to buy any components it may need from US companies, Huawei smartphone business in the West could be crippled if the situation is not resolved.
Huawei, however, is not perturbed by these events the company founder has been quoted by the Chinese media saying it won’t experience a supply shortage and that it is very well prepared. In China, it already sells millions of smartphones without Google services because they’re banned there.
It already has its own App Store and is spoken about developing a smartphone operating system presumably for use outside China without Google’s involvement. This story is changing by the day so as you read this further event would have almost certainly taken place.
But what does all this mean for the Huawei smartphone in your hand? Well, at the moment Google Play and play protect updates will continue but after August 19th if nothing has changed, main Android software updates will stop and the software on your Huawei smartphone will remain as it is on that day.
Beyond that time and because the story is constantly evolving, it’s difficult to predict what will happen next to Huawei, its current smartphones and any future products.
Unless the situation is resolved quickly Huawei will become a very different company than it was even at this time last year.