Following the US crackdown on Chinese technology companies, Reuters reports that Google has cut off Huawei’s Android license, which would represent a huge blow to the besieged phonemaker. Reuters is reporting the news from a single anonymous source; The Verge requested comment from Google and Huawei about the suspension, but did not hear back from either company by the time of publication.
If the Reuters report is accurate, Huawei could be restricted to using the Android Open Source Project (ASOP), which would cut the company off from critical Google apps that consumers outside of China expect on Android devices. Reuters says Google is still debating the details of how this sanction would work, but that Huawei would “immediately lose access to [Android] updates,” and that future smartphones would lose access to the Google Play Store and apps like Gmail.
Huawei has been under increasing pressure from President Trump and the US government over fears that its equipment could be used by the Chinese government to spy on American networks. These fears have been under construction for a long time; In 2018, US intelligence agencies warned against using Huawei and ZTE devices, and US politicians have described Huawei as “effectively an arm of the Chinese government.”
Huawei maintains that it is not possible for the Chinese government to poison its equipment with backdoors, and it has remained optimistic about the future of its business. But this latest setback from Google could pose a serious risk to the future of Huawei’s core mobile business. The company was already preparing its own operating systems in the event of being banned from using Android and Windows, but given US fears about foreign interference, a home-grown OS is likely to face even more scrutiny than Google’s software.