U.S. banhammers Huawei, blocking handsets, hardware, and Android access
The Bureau of Industry and Security within the U.S. Department of Commerce has added Chinese device maker Huawei and its affiliates to the Bureau's Entity List. That list is comprised of companies prohibited from trading with American businesses without a special license. According to the Commerce Department's announcement, the move comes in the wake of the Department of Justice's allegations that Huawei both directly violated and conspired to violate trade sanctions against Iran. These charges are covered by the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA). This creates an immediate import ban in the United States for all products made by Huawei and prohibits American businesses from dealing with the electronics giant.
Because Huawei's smartphone lineup relies on Android and Google Play—a product of the United States—the company will face technological hurdles going forward. Reuters reports that Google says it's complying with the order and that future devices won't have access to its services. According to Google's spokesperson, "Huawei will only be able to use the public version of Android and will not be able to get access to proprietary apps and services from Google." Those proprietary apps include the Google Play Store, Gmail, YouTube, and anything else Google produces. However, existing Huawei devices will continue to have access to Google Play, according to a tweet from the official Android Twitter account.
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
Smartphones need more than software, though. Chip makers are affected by this ban, as well. Bloomberg has reported that Intel, Qualcomm, Xilinx, and Broadcom have all told their employees that the companies will cut off Huawei "until further notice." On the other hand, an Infineon spokesperson told Bloomberg that the marjority of its products that it sells to Huawei are not affected by these restrictions.
Because Huawei also produces PCs running Windows, there could be a possibility that Windows 10 updates could be blocked for its users. So far, Microsoft not made a statement on the ban. When contacted by Tech Radar, a Microsoft spokesperson told the site "we have nothing to share."
Huawei also makes base stations for cellular networks. Just like everything else the company makes, those are banned in the U.S., too, according to Ars Technica.
In a separate report, Bloomberg says Huawei has stockpiled enough necessary components to stay operational for "at least three months." That's gotta be a lot of chips, though. Over the last several years, Huawei has consistently ranked as one of the top five smartphone manufacturers in the world. As of the end of 2018, the company ranked third behind only Apple and Samsung on IDC's market share listing.
The U.S. government recently slapped smartphone maker ZTE with a similar ban. That action was then reversed three months later following an overhaul of ZTE's top management. The company was then allowed to resume business with American companies. For that reason, we believe that this story is just getting started. We'll continue to follow progress.