iTWire journalist Sam Varghese has been prolifically covering the Huawei and ZTE ban, and now the Google Android ban over the past few days, with excellent coverage that is definitely worth reading.
On Thursday, 16 May, Sam's article was entitled "Trump signs order banning equipment from Huawei, ZTE". He then followed that up just over an hour later with an article entitled "Huawei banned from using US components without approval".
Last Friday, Sam explained that "US parts ban a setback for Huawei; American firms could suffer too", then on Sunday noted: "Trump using Huawei issue 'to pressure China over trade deal'".
Indeed, it has been widely reported that Huawei has been stockpiling parts made by US companies for months, as well as working on its own homegrown OS, should something like what has happened did happen.
Now there are a lot of questions over what this means for owners of the P30 Pro, P30, Mate 20 Pro, Mate 20 and other premium, mid-range and entry-level Huawei smartphones, as well as its Honor brand of smartphones mid-range and entry-level models.
Well, in a media statement issued just after 6pm on Monday, 20 May, a Huawei spokesperson said:
"Huawei has made substantial contributions to the development and growth of Android around the world. As one of Android’s key global partners, we have worked closely with their open-source platform to develop an ecosystem that has benefitted both users and the industry.
"Huawei will continue to provide security updates and after sales services to all existing Huawei and Honor smartphone and tablet products covering those have been sold or still in stock globally.
"We will continue to build a safe and sustainable software ecosystem, in order to provide the best experience for all users globally."
Google itself said in a Tweet the following (which can be seen in the tweet embedded below): "For Huawei users' questions regarding our steps to comply w/ the recent US Government actions: We assure you while we are complying with all US Govt requirements, services like Google Play & security from Google Play Protect will keep functioning on your existing Huawei device."
For Huawei users' questions regarding our steps to comply w/ the recent US government actions: 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.— Android (@Android) May 20, 2019
Now, is this all just a negotiating tactic as Sam covered in his article on the topic?
Could US President Donald Trump backflip as he did with ZTE?
Will this soften, or more likely harden, China's resolve to fight back hard against Trump's tariffs?
In the great Game of Phones, Tariffs and Trade War Thrones, the script is still being written - and it should prove much more compelling than season eight of TV's Game of Thrones has been thus far.
Google's move also makes us wonder whether Microsoft will also be forced, by US laws, to deprive Huawei of its Windows OS, security updates and more – while Bloomberg is already reporting that Intel, Qualcomm, Xilinx and Broadcom have announced they will stop supplying Huawei, too.
Now, while it is true that Huawei sells little networking equipment in the US, and few of its smartphones too, it certainly does have customers in the US – and it uses the products of US based companies in its products, which it sells around the world.
Thus, the ban (and the new bans) also impact billions of people not living in the US or otherwise directly subject to US laws, and clearly, US actions can have direct and indirect actions across the planet.
With so much of our technology manufactured in China — despite moves by some Taiwanese companies to go back to Taiwan to manufacture again, and other countries around the world being seen and already used as manufacturing locations not (yet) subject to any US bans — including more manufacturing in the US itself, this move has global ramifications which we're only just starting to feel.
Hopefully, the US and China can resolve their differences quickly, and Huawei's access to Android and its security updates can be quickly restored, so that smartphones such as the Huawei Mate X with its folding screen, a future Mate 30 Pro and all of Huawei's future models can be launched with full Android compatibility and support.
However, it clearly seems certain that Huawei's efforts to diversity its hardware suppliers away from the US, and its efforts to build successful alternatives to Android and Windows will only be massively accelerated, no matter how quickly the resolution with the US does, or doesn't occur.
So, as the waters swirl wildly with growing waves as the trade war storms continue, existing Huawei customers are being reassured by Huawei that security updates will continue being delivered, and Google says access to the Play Store and app updates will continue, too.
As Yogi Berra so famously stated: "It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future", so we'll just have to wait and see whether Trump's dragon or Xi's dragon will vanquish the other in the great trade war battlefield, or whether a truce can be reached that will see the world's current prosperity, despite ever growing debt levels, continue for many decades yet.