Amid the ongoing tussle between the US and Chinese governments, Google’s decision to suspend Huawei’s Android license has come as a shock to many. In the last year or so, Huawei has shown tremendous growth to become the second-largest smartphone brand in the world. The resultant turmoil that follows also presents an opportunity for Huawei’s rivals to make up some lost ground. Among those are none other than Android’s greatest rival – Apple.
The ban and its effects
By cutting off Huawei’s Android license, Google is preventing future smartphones from the Chinese company (like the upcoming Mate 30) from using the Play Store and Google’s popular apps and services. It is worth mentioning that Huawei will continue to have access to core Android OS, which is covered by the Android Open Source Project. But it won’t be able to use the services that Google charges for, which include the Play Store and the various Google apps like Gmail, Maps, and YouTube among others.
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While Huawei will surely be impacted by this ban, it still has a few options courtesy of its sheer size. The company could build on its EMUI framework and depend upon third-party app stores or take a radical approach by building its very own operating system.
There are a few reports online claiming that Huawei could take such a path, but if history is anything to go by, this could be easier said than done. We have seen companies try and come out with alternate OS options to compete with Google or reduce their reliance on it. Samsung, for one, comes to mind that tried its hands with operating systems like Tizen and Bada.
Despite such efforts though, it continues to depend upon Google and Android for its smartphone business. Even Microsoft tried and eventually failed at competing against Android and iOS. It would then require nothing short of a miracle for Huawei to take such a radical path and survive in the long term. Going solo has its pros and cons, but going by the past, it market is ruled by the Android-iOS duopoly. And considering that Google’s decision to stop Android support for Huawei, the obvious result is cracks in its own ecosystem of partners.
The market is there for the taking
In the meantime, Huawei’s rivals will be gearing up to try and claw back as much market share as possible while the giant is down. Apple, for one, has seen its hardware business suffer to an extent where it decided to stop sharing shipment numbers during the earnings call. While its services arm continues to bring in the moolah, it will no doubt look at this opportunity as a change in fortunes for the hardware business.
While in the US, Apple has a healthy lead in the premium segment, the same is not the case on the global stage. Take for example the European market. As per a recent Counterpoint report, Huawei comes in second behind Samsung with a market share of 26 percent, while Apple is in third with a market share of 21 percent.
It is here that Apple can make some headway, while Huawei struggles to cope with the ban. Huawei’s flagship smartphones cater to the segment, where Apple does the bulk of its business. With the absence of a player such as Huawei, buyers in that segment could be swayed back to Apple. If however they want to stick with the Android platform, they would no doubt prefer Samsung.