This article first appeared on the South China Morning Post.
Huawei Technologies, the world’s second-largest smartphone vendor, may delay overseas sales of its upcoming 5G Mate 30 series smartphones for lack of access to Google services under the US trade ban, according to people familiar with the matter.
While the new handsets will continue to run on the Android operating system, the US trade ban on Huawei will prevent the Chinese telecommunications equipment giant from selling these high-end devices with popular Google mobile services, such as Google Play and Google Maps, the people said. They added, however, that Huawei’s planned delay is not final and that any further action by the US government might affect the firm’s decision.
The Shenzhen-based company is expected to send out invitations to international media for the launch of the Mate 30 in Munich, Germany, in mid-September.
But without access to Google mobile services, Huawei will need to initially sharpen its focus on selling the new Mate 30 smartphone models to consumers in its home market, where a range of domestic apps and services are more widely used, according to the people.
Huawei said it does not comment on speculation, according to an emailed statement on Thursday. “The open Android operating system and the ecosystem around it are still our first choice,” the company said. “Please stay tuned for our new products.”
Huawei continues to struggle with the US trade ban, despite Washington’s recent decision to grant it a further reprieve to buy major components from American hi-tech companies. That reprieve, however, does not apply to new Huawei products such as the Mate 30 series, so it cannot be sold with licensed Google apps and services, according to a Reuters report, which cited a Google spokesman.
Huawei was initially issued a temporary general license on May 20 after the company and its 68 non-US affiliates were placed by Washington under a trade blacklist, called the Entity List, over national security concerns. The aim of the license was to minimize disruption to existing mobile services and mobile networks, including those of many US rural carriers, that use Huawei equipment.
The new Mate 30 series represents Huawei’s most important device launch in the second half of this year because it will compete against similar high-end handsets to be introduced by rivals Samsung Electronics and Apple in the same period, said one of the people.
Huawei, whose high-end P and Mate series smartphones sell for up to USD 1,000 in overseas markets, has regularly launched the latest models in September in Europe, its most important market outside China.
The company, however, saw its smartphone shipments in Europe decline by 16% in the second quarter of this year, according to research firm Canalys.
Richard Yu Chengdong, the chief executive of Huawei’s mobile business group, recently said the US trade ban could have wiped out shipments of about 10 million smartphones from Huawei in the past quarter.
Still, the US trade ban has prompted Huawei to accelerate the roll-out of its self-developed mobile operating system called Harmony.