What happened: Google has blocked Huawei from some updates to the Android operating system to comply with a trade blacklist that bans the Chinese smartphone maker from doing business with US companies without government approval. Huawei now only has access to the Android Open Source Project (AOSP), which is available for free to anyone who wishes to use it. The company will not be able to use popular services including the Google Play Store, Gmail, and YouTube apps on future Android phones. It also means Huawei will only be able to push security updates for Android once they’re made available in AOSP.
Why it’s important: Google apps and services are requisites for Android smartphones in markets outside of China, where smartphone shoppers are unlikely to buy an Android phone that lacks access to Google’s Play Store, which attracts the lion’s share of apps. Huawei’s smartphone business will definitely see an impact as half of the smartphones it sold in 2018 under the Huawei and Honor brands were to markets outside of China. Huawei said it has been preparing for its own technology in case it is blocked from using Android, though the ecosystem for its proprietary OS is lacking. Long term, the restriction may motivate Huawei to develop a viable alternative to Google’s operating system, as the search giant is pushing its own smartphone brand Pixel at a similar price range to Huawei handsets.