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What's going on with Huawei?

Lucie Spraggs's picture

It's been just over a year since the U.S. put in place a trade ban on the Chinese tech-giant Huawei. Then they gave a reprieve, then another and then the mysterious licenses that would allow U.S. companies to trade with Huawei (that were seemingly lost in the post). If you're confused about the 'Huawei situtation', you're certainly not the only one.

Are Huawei devices still being insured?

Percentage of devices insured by Tinhat that are Huawei
Month Huawei devices insured (% of all sales)
Jul 18 5%
Aug 18 6%
Sept 18 5%
Oct 18 6%
Nov 18 8%
Dec 18 7%
Jan 19 7%
Feb 19 9%
Mar 19 7%
Apr 19 15%
May 19 12%
Jun 19 10%
Jul 19 9%
Aug 19 7%
Sep 19 11%
Oct 19 9%
Nov 19 14%
Dec 19 6%
Jan 20 8%
Feb 20 8%
Mar 20 7%
Apr 20 10%

 

 

The timeline

Since the ban last year, we keep getting announcements about U.S/China trade deals and reprieves being given, then not. So the 'Huawei situation has become pretty hard to follow. We've put togther a timeline for the last year, giving a blow by blow story of events.

30th July 2018 

Huawei overtakes Apple to become the world's second-biggest smartphone manufacturer.   

15th May 2019 

The U.S. Government adds Huawei to the US Department of Commerce’s Entity List via executive order, thereby blacklisting the company as far as US corporations are concerned.

19th May 2019 

Google publically states that it will be complying with the U.S. goverment order. Stating that Google services will continue to function for existing Huawei devices, but not future devices.

20th May 2019 

Intel and Qualcomm join Google in complying with the order.

The U.S. Government issue a 90-day reprieve, allowing Huawei to maintain its current products for existing customers.  

7th June 2019  

Facebook will no longer pre-install its apps on Huawei devices. These apps include Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp.

The ban only applies to phones that have yet to leave the factory. 

10th June 2019 

Huawei is building up its app store, in case the US ban holds and Huawei are forced to go it alone.     

12th June 2019  

The first major casualty of the Huawei ban is the new MateBook. 

The MateBook laptop was put on indefinite hold due to the situation. With Huawei saying "We cannot supply the PC," 

14th June 2019 

As many expected, the Huawei Mate X (the first folding phone) was delayed.

Huawei said that the ban could cost them over $30 billion. 

27th June 2019  

Huawei P30 smashes sales record of P20 series.

Despite the ban, the P30 beats its predecerror by a huge margin. This trend is not expected to continue with the ban in full effect.

 29th June 2019 

Over the next fortnight there is change in the ban. Now licenses to sell to Huawei will be issued if there's no security threat.

30th June 2019 

Somehow, Huawei saw a smartphone shipment spike: Despite the ban, the compnay reported a 24 percent increase in H1 2019.

 29th June 2019 

Over the next fortnight there is change in the ban. Now licenses to sell to Huawei will be issued if there's no security threat.

30th June 2019 

Somehow, Huawei saw a smartphone shipment spike: Despite the ban, the compnay reported a 24 percent increase in H1 2019.

 9th August 2019 

The 90-day reprieve is extended by another 90 days.  This means the Chinese brand is able to keep buying products and services from US companies to service existing customers and devices.

30th August 2020  

Despite recieving 130 license request to sell to Huawei, the U.S. government have not granted any. 

 19th September 2019 

The Mate 30 and Mate 30 Pro launch without Google services. To combat this, Hauwei announces that it will be pushing development on its own app store. 

31st October 2019 

Huawei continues to close the gap to Samsung.

Reports show that Huawei has grown annually by almost 30% in Q3 2019. While Samsung grew by 11%.

 23rd October 2019 

Huawei announces that it has shipped more than 200 million smartphones globally 64 days earlier than last year. This is even more impressive in light of its current trade ban.

25th October 2019 

Chip designer Arm confirms it will continue supplying Huawei despite the trade ban since the key chip technology in its next-gen architecture originates from the UK rather than the US. This means Huawei’s upcoming phones will be able to stay on the cutting edge.

 19th November 2019 

The US government has extended the temporary general license that allows US firms to do business with Huawei by another 90 days

20th November 2019 

The United States government is finally sending out approval and denial letters to some of the 290 US-based firms that requested special permission to work with Huawei. Microsoft confirmed that the US Department of Commerce has approved its application to export “mass-market software” to Huawei.

 20th January 2020 

Huawei lands a Google maps alternative: Since the trade ban prohibits Huawei from utilizing Google services, the company was left without a solid Google Maps alternative. Fortunately, the Chinese manufacturer has finally lined one up by signing a deal with TomTom. The agreement means Huawei can use TomTom’s mapping, traffic, and navigation software in lieu of Google Maps technology. It also means Huawei can use TomTom’s software to create its own smartphone apps, potentially opening the door for a Huawei-branded mapping solution (e.g. Huawei Maps).

30th January 2020  

A Huawei representative was quoted saying that the company will not use licensed versions of Android with Google app support even if the United States lifts the trade ban. In a statement to Android Authority, Huawei neither confirmed nor denied this accusation.

 11th February 2020 

Huawei Mate 30 Pro set to launch in UK without Google apps: About five months after its initial launch, Huawei finally announced the UK release of the Mate 30 Pro, but the device will land without Google services. The device went on sale February 20 exclusively at Carphone Warehouse for £899 

14th February 2020 

Huawei’s previous trade extension was handed out in November 2019, and it was valid for 90 days. On Feb. 14, the Department of Commerce gave Huawei another extension, but this time for only 45 days.

So where are we now?

It's definitely true to say, the world's attention has been diverted away from the Huawei - U.S. battle. But the arguement still goes on. Huawei are in a better place with the US than they were this time last year, and also arguebly in a better place internally. Sales have continued to grow despite the ban and Huawei are proving tht the can go it alone without the support of the US. So the question is, 'What's next for Huawei?''.The ban has sucked the air out of all conversations, but Huawei remains a highly competitive and popular consumer brand. The company should keep doing what it’s good at — launch really nice phones.

The Huawei P40 Pro was launched on March 26, 2020. Like other phones in the P series, it pushes the boundaries of camera hardware. Richard Yu has described the top entry in this series as the “world’s most powerful 5G flagship,” both confirming support for 5G networks and highlighting Huawei’s extreme confidence in the device.

A future without Google?

If the ban is lifted or Google gets an exemption, the next question is, will Huawei return to the Google ecosystem? The answer seems obvious, but the recent comments of a Huawei Austria executive cast some doubt on the idea that everything will just return to normal. The exec said, in clear terms, Huawei will not return to using Google’s platform even if the US allows it. Huawei later claimed it was a misunderstanding. “An open Android ecosystem is still our first choice, but if we are not able to continue to use it, we have the ability to develop our own,” the company said in a statement.
In theory, Huawei could abandon Google, withdraw to China, and scrap all the effort it’s put into expanding internationally. The Chinese market is large enough to allow it to survive indefinitely, albeit on a much smaller scale. That’s not likely to happen though. Instead, Huawei will probably start shipping phones with Google’s platform again, but continue to diligently build out its own platform in the background.

Huawei has already announced billion-dollar initiatives to entice developers to join its platform. The company is putting a lot of work into making its homegrown Huawei Mobile Services a practical alternative to Google Mobile Services.

Now that Huawei has seen first-hand how easy it can lose vital access to Google and other US technology, it will double down on its efforts to become independent. That’s regardless of the outcome of the ban. In fact, an eventual lift of the ban would give Huawei’s own ecosystem even more momentum, as developers in the US will be able to freely offer their apps in Huawei’s app store.

Huawei may not abandon Google — which, for now, is essential for global markets — but the company will do whatever it can to protect itself from future disruption. Huawei has the means and the motivation to build an alternative to the Google platform. And other Chinese phone makers may support this effort, out of self-preservation if nothing else. Already there are reports that Huawei, Xiaomi, Oppo, and Vivo have joined forces to launch their own app store.