Huawei is preparing to launch its own mobile phone operating system after Google said it would stop supplying it with its Android software, amid an intensifying US-China trade war that has rocked global markets.
The Chinese telecoms group was last week placed on a “banned entity” list by the White House, which forbids American companies from supplying it with technology. Google said it was “complying with the order and reviewing the implications”. Huawei, which overtook Apple to become the world’s number-two smartphone maker this year, relies on Google’s Android operating system for its phones and shipped more than 200m last year.
Peter Garnry, head of equity strategy, at Saxo Bank, said Google’s move was “effectively the starting signal of a technology cold war”, adding: “What we are witnessing is a potential reconfiguration of global trade.”
盛宝银行(Saxo Bank)股票策略主管彼得•加恩瑞(Peter Garnry)表示，谷歌此举“实际上是一场科技冷战的发令枪”，他补充道：“我们正在见证的是全球贸易的潜在重新洗牌。”
Tim Watkins, Huawei vice-president for western Europe, said the group had been “caught in the middle” of the trade war but had been preparing for the worst. It has been working on its own operating system, which “can kick in very quickly”, he added. He noted that the Huawei OS had already been trialled in some parts of China.
The Stoxx index tracking Europe’s tech sector, fell more than 3 per cent while the tech-heavy Nasdaq fell more than 1 per cent.
Huawei has become entangled in the US-China trade war with the effective ban coming just days after President Donald Trump raised tariffs on Chinese imports to 25 per cent and Beijing retaliated in kind.
Huawei also relies on chips made by US companies including Qualcomm and Intel. Mr Watkins said it had stockpiled five years of spare parts and one year’s worth of components.
But Citi analysts said in a research note to clients that the potential software ban “could paralyse Huawei’s smartphone and equipment business”.
If Google blocks Huawei from Android, which is used on three-quarters of mobile phones and offers 2.5m apps, the Chinese group will still be able to use the basic, open-source version of the software.
But its future smartphones may lose access to apps including YouTube, Gmail and Maps, and to the Google Play store and to security updates. This is likely to hit their attractiveness outside China, where many Google apps are already banned, analysts said.
Huawei said last year that its smartphone, tablets and laptops business generated 48 per cent of company revenue. Richard Windsor, an independent analyst, said losing the Google ecosystem “is very likely to cost Huawei all of its smartphone shipments outside China” — which, according to data consultancies including Counterpoint Research, is about half its total.
华为去年表示，其智能手机、平板电脑和笔记本电脑业务为公司产生48%的营收。独立分析师理查德•温莎(Richard Windsor)表示，失去谷歌生态系统“很可能会使华为失去中国境外市场的全部智能手机出货量。”根据Counterpoint Research等数据咨询公司的数据，那相当于华为智能手机产量的一半。