Unless you’re a Nokia 3310 user who’s SMSing your friends a “Happy Vesak Day” four-line message (only to realise that 2G doesn’t work), then you’d have known about the Huawei-Google saga that’s sending shockwaves all over the world, including China.
And for people who’re using Apple and wonder what’s all the big hoo-ha all about, or Samsung users who’re laughing at the Huawei show-offs who were zooming into their pimples, they might be wondering why there’s a ban on Google services on Huawei, and wonder whether it’ll impact Samsung as well.
Well, wonder no more as we simplify what’s happened—because that’s what we do best.
Huawei’s Software in China & Outside China
Before anything, you’ve got to understand what Huawei does.
We all know that it makes smartphones, but a device without software is essentially a brick. iPhone uses its own operating system iOS and Samsung uses Android as its OS.
Huawei, in China, uses Android as its OS as well, but for its app store, there are many choices: people can download apps via app stores like Tencent Myapp, Huawei App Market or 360 Mobile Assistant.
As they’re still running on Android, the codes are written in Java as well, so they’re essentially the same as the Android app we use; the only difference is that each app must be approved by the Chinese authorities before they can be in any of the China app stores.
And as we know, over in Singapore, Huawei uses Android as its OS and we’ve only one app store: the Google Play Store. The only approval developers need is from Google Play Store.
And here’s the thing: Android is an open-source OS, so there’s no commercial agreement to use it. Anyone can use it; in fact, your SmartTV might be running on Android.
However, Google would usually have a stable (and well-tested) Android update for current phones running on Andriod. If Huawei has no agreement with Google, they might not receive this update in real-time and would have to wait for Google to release this new update to the public before Huawei users can update it.
So, what leads to this entire fiasco?
Huawei in the US’s Crosshairs for Years
The relationship between Huawei and the US Government has been on the rocks since 2010. Back then, US intelligence officials have begun warning agencies, then companies, that Huawei is spying for the Chinese government.
However, in 2012, an investigation concluded that they couldn’t find any evidence linking Huawei and the Chinese Government, but Huawei did not disclose details about their dealings with the Chinese military or intelligence services.
That was when Huawei allegedly decided to start a Plan B and worked on their own OS lest the worst (like what happened yesterday) occur.
Over the next few years, Huawei and the US Government crossed swords several times. Early last year, the FCC in the US banned Huawei devices from US telcos, so their phones are only available without a contract.
And it doesn’t help that late last year, Huawei’s Chief Finance Officer was arrested in Canada to face charges by the US for circumventing US sanctions on Iran (i.e. selling to Iran).
Now, before you can understand more, you’d need to know about sanctions and how countries are fighting against each other nowadays.
What are Sanctions?
In the past, when Country A isn’t happy with Country B, they bring up their invasion force and invade the country.
But now, it’s different.
To attack, one merely needs to put sanctions on the country. What are sanctions? Basically, you don’t trade with the country and get other countries not to trade with her, too.
Take, for example, North Korea: sanctions were imposed on them unless they disarm their nuclear arsenal. Without imports of, say, food, North Korea’s population would suffer.
And it’s not just food; it could be anything.
So you can see why Huawei’s CFO was arrested; sanctions were imposed on Iran but she allegedly still sold to them.
Trump’s Executive Order
For months, people have speculated that Trump’s going to sign an Executive Order that gives the Government power to block US companies from buying foreign-made telecommunications equipment if there is a national security risk.
So, what’s an Executive Order?
To put it in the simplest form, it’s a temporary “law” set by the executive branch of the US Government. You see, over in the US (and any other countries), laws cannot anyhowly be changed; they need to go through Congress and a voting process.
However, when there are emergencies that require a law to be implemented fast, the executive branch (i.e. White House, i.e. the President) can sign an Executive Order to ensure that the country is run smoothly.
While this Executive Order is broad, many see it as a target towards Huawei, and with the recent ban by Google, you can bet it most probably is.
Together with the Executive Order, Huawei is added into the Entity List: it’s basically a list of blacklisted companies that require approval from the US Government if it wants to buy anything from US companies.
In other words, simply put, Huawei isn’t just in the crosshairs anymore: shots are fired le.