Vietnamese phone owners anxious as Google cuts Huawei ties

By Staff reporters   May 22, 2019 | 05:21 pm PT
Vietnamese phone owners anxious as Google cuts Huawei ties
Many Huawei users in Vietnam are wondering whether their Android-powered phones would still be able to access Google services after their business ties were suspended. Photo by Reuters
Worried Vietnamese owners of Huawei smartphones are considering switching brands after Google suspended business ties with the Chinese brand.

Google’s decision, announced on Monday, came after the U.S. blacklisted Huawei amidst the ongoing trade war between the two superpowers.

Hundreds flocked to online forums and social media looking for answers on whether their Android-powered phones would still be able to access Google services like Google Maps, Gmail or YouTube.

Some even expressed little confidence for the future of the brand, while others sought to either sell or trade their current Huawei phones.

"If Huawei [phones] cannot be updated by Google’s Android then what’s the point of buying it? If Huawei’s products cannot be used with the Android OS, it is no more than a brick with a price tag in the millions," wrote Dung in a comment section on the website of The Gioi Di Dong, a top Vietnamese tech retailer.

"Who would dare to buy another Huawei phone again without Android, YouTube, CHPlay or Gmail?" asked another account named Khoa.

"I just bought a P30 Pro, but I heard that [Huawei] would no longer receive support from Google. Will the shop allow me to switch to a different phone?" Duc wanted to know.

"Temporarily, I suggest everyone to stop buying Huawei phones until either Google or Huawei release their latest updates [on the matter]. It would not make sense to spend tens of millions (of VND) to buy a phone without knowing for sure if the Google Play Store would continue to be supported in the long run," wrote Duy Luan on Vietnamese tech forum

Google has already confirmed that its services Google Play and Google Play Protect would continue to function on existing Huawei devices via a tweet on Monday.

Huawei, meanwhile, has said in a statement that it would "continue to provide security updates and after-sales services to all existing Huawei and Honor smartphone and tablet products," as well as pledging to continue building a "safe and sustainable software ecosystem, in order to provide the best experience for all users globally."

The suspension, however, could hobble Huawei’s smartphone business outside China as the tech giant will immediately lose access to updates to Google’s Android operating system, Reuters reported.

Future versions of Huawei smartphones that run on Android will also lose access to popular services including Google Play Store, Gmail and YouTube apps.

"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," a source told Reuters.

No immediate impact

The ongoing spat between Huawei and Google, as well as the U.S, would continue for a while and may impact Vietnam’s market in the future, said Tien Trong, the owner of a shop selling Chinese phones on Hanoi’s Bach Mai Street.

However, concerns about Huawei phones becoming useless is baseless as multiple Android smartphones from China still function without Google services.

Newer Huawei smartphones like the Mate 30 or the Mate 30 Pro might suffer the most as they may no longer run on the international version of Android OS, Trong said.

Google cutting business ties with Huawei would not affect Huawei smartphone users in Vietnam for now, but the same cannot be said of the future, local media reports quoted Mai Trieu Nguyen, director of mobile tech firm Mai Nguyen, as saying.

Future negotiations between Huawei and Google as well as progress of the U.S.-China trade war might bring about new changes to the current situation, he added.

"But [Google cutting business ties with Huawei] would certainly affect Huawei’s smartphone business operations in Vietnam and other countries," Nguyen stressed.

Huawei, which is also the global leader in telecoms networking equipment, has been embroiled in a long-running row with the U.S. over the alleged security of its systems and devices.

Earlier this month, U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order barring U.S. companies from using telecommunications equipment made by firms posing a national security risk.

The U.S. administration has said Huawei equipment could be used by China for espionage and Washington has pressed its allies to use other suppliers.

Huawei has flatly denied the U.S charges.

Huawei’s founder and chief executive, Ren Zhengfei, had said Saturday, before Google’s announcement, that growth of the Chinese tech giant "may slow, but only slightly" as a result of recent U.S. actions, Reuters reported.

The Chinese firm has been working on its own operating system however, Bloomberg quoted its mobile chief Richard Yu as saying last year. Another Huawei executive told the Financial Times Monday that its own operating system has been trialed in China and "can kick in very quickly."

On Monday, the U.S. Commerce Department granted Huawei a license to buy U.S. goods until August 19 to maintain existing telecoms networks and provide software updates to Huawei smartphones, a move intended to give telecom operators that rely on Huawei time to make other arrangements.

Huawei, however, said Tuesday that it was the victim of U.S. "bullying." A senior Huawei executive also said that the firm was working with Google to counter trade restrictions imposed by Washington last week.

"They [Google] have zero motivation to block us. We are working closely with Google to find out how Huawei can handle the situation and the impact from the U.S. Department of Commerce decision," Abraham Liu, Huawei’s representative to the EU institutions told Reuters.

"Huawei is becoming the victim of the bullying by the U.S. administration. This is not just an attack against Huawei. It is an attack on the liberal, rules-based order."

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