Opinions: Will Google’s decision to side with the US affect Huawei at all? How will it affect us in Malaysia?


Recent news that Google has stopped access to certain services and updates for Huawei on US orders has sent any number of Malaysians into a frenzy. The first thing we have to say is, chill and keep calm, the stopped access only affects future updates to certain proprietary Google apps and the upcoming Android Q. If you’re a Huawei device user, you won’t lose access to GMail or YouTube today (we used Google Docs to type this with no issues). We'd recommend taking a chill pill for now and seeing what else Google details in their official statement and what Huawei has planned.


What can Malaysian Huawei users expect in the near future?

When Google or the Alphabet company does actually go through with the stopped access to Huawei and Honor device users the main issue would be vulnerabilities due to the loss of security patches and updates in Android. Everything else will be much like if you were using an older version of Android (the upcoming Android Q is version 10 and there are still many Android 5 users out there). How many of you are still using Android 4 or lower?


There's always the Android Open Source Project (AOSP)

You’d still be able to use your not updated YouTube and GMail apps and access the web versions from a non-Google Chrome Internet browser (there’s tons, I’m using Opera). Google have already reassured that access to the Google Play store and Google Play Protect security will still be in place. But, your Android Play Store may stop updating your apps, especially the aforementioned YouTube and GMail apps. Huawei already has their App Gallery as a replacement for this with a slew of coupons and vouchers for those who adopt it, but for now we’ve accessed the Android Play store from our Huawei device with no issues.    

In addition, Huawei still (and should always) have access to the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) version of Android. So, they won’t be completely left in the dark if proprietary Google access is cut off. Any number of other brands utilize AOSP versions of Android with no problems and there’s a huge number of third-party developers doing forks of their versions of AOSP Android.

Can Huawei survive this?

Huawei have already said repeatedly that they have replacement apps (and even an operating system) in place and have been preparing for something like stopped Google Access and access to other US based services and products for YEARS. It just depends on how Huawei’s Plan B will be received by all their users. 

For example, you can use the Huawei email client that comes with your Huawei device or access the web version of YouTube from an Internet browser. Some users of the Huawei P30 series may have also noticed that they also have their own Huawei Internet Browser, so there’s also other Google Chrome alternatives for Huawei and Honor device users. We don’t think that Huawei will suddenly force everyone to speak and use Mandarin either, so please don’t get into a frenzy about that too but some users may be too invested in Google to just up and leave.


What does this mean for the future?

While it may be a slight inconvenience to Huawei users, it sets a dangerous precedent for other US-based tech companies. This is because it means that Google, arguably the most global US-based tech company around, has done exactly what the US claimed Huawei could do for China (Huawei still vehemently denies ever spying for China now or in the future). Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp may soon follow, but then a lot of you wanted to get off social media anyway right?

It also means that if Huawei, arguably the largest Chinese tech company can be targeted, then everyone else is fair game as well. Non-US brands like OPPO, Vivo, Lenovo and even Taiwanese companies like ASUS and Acer or South Korean companies like Samsung or LG could also get targeted, so just because you’re not a Huawei or Honor user, it doesn’t mean you’re safe either. Apple users may likely be safe for a while but China may just ban Apple users entirely with those friendly to China following as well. Would you still use an Apple device if it could only be used in the US? Do you even know where most Apple devices get made (Foxconn, which is in China but they do have a new India plant)?!


From Tim Cook's twitter 

Then there’s what may happen if things escalate even further. Huawei could just stop supporting all Huawei networking equipment in the US, effectively crippling many networks there. Our fervent wish right now is that cooler heads will find a middle path forward (yes, we’re looking at you Google!) or that somehow the US and China stop this stupid trade feud and come to an agreement as these are harbingers of war here, if not with tanks and bombs but with tech.

It’s not all bad though, as it could also mean that China may open up their Google replacements to Huawei and Honor device users. So there may just be English and other localized versions of Baidu and Weibo following WeChat into the world. So, in the end, the US may just become the isolated country instead, but this may just be looking a bit too far in the future.


Conclusion - EVERYONE should take a chill pill

Right now, no one actually needs to be in a frenzy or panic, as this may lead to making the wrong decisions. In fact, we actually need everyone to take a chill pill (Google, Huawei, the US, China, you… everybody), keep calm and think logically for the welfare of the world. Huawei and Honor users won’t be affected too much by this decision with it until a couple of years, but by that time we expect Huawei’s Plan B to be firmly in place (heck, we expect it to roll out as soon as Google makes it official... if they don't suddenly make a U-turn).

The Kirin 990 or Kirin 985 and Huawei Mate 30 Pro might get set back a little as Huawei focuses on this transition, but asides from that, we expect Huawei to bounce back from this. Malaysia itself is already well on its way to Huawei 5G network integration, so we expect that we already know which side we’re on. So rather than be all doom and gloom, do take a look at what hidden opportunities may arise.


Interesting times, people. Interesting times. What's your take on all this? Tell us what you think and as always, stay tuned to TechNave.com

[Update]: For those not in the know, Huawei have since responded with a statement of support and we’ve explored many of the possibilities for the future. In addition, the US have also made a U-Turn, but to stay up to date with all the latest news, feel free to download our new TechNave APP 2.0 for Android and iOS.