Technology company Huawei has unveiled a new range of products planned to be rolled out across the world this week.
The new devices, launching in March, are expected to use the new Huawei Mobile Services (HMS), a replacement to Google Mobile Services (GMS). This follows the US-China trade ban in May 2019.
Though the ban caused panic among users, Huawei South African says the ban did not do much harm to its brand and business.
“Our brand surprisingly has actually grown year-on-year as well as performance in terms of business,” says Akhram Mohamed, Huawei Chief Technology Officer.
Huawei vs Google
The ban restricts Chinese companies from trading with American companies. Huawei was restricted from working with US tech giant Google, however, it can continue working with Android – an open-source platform that can be used by anyone in the world.
The ripple effect of this ban results in Huawei consumers across the world now restricted from using Google services.
HMS customised for SA market
HMS was initially launched in other markets, but not in its current form. It had to be customised for the South African market.
Those who bought Huawei phones before the ban will continue to use their smartphones as the phones were bought before the ban.
”If you’ve got a Huawei phone that you gotten maybe a year ago or six months ago, in actual fact you will not see any difference , material difference to your experience or to using the phone because it’s still GMS and no matter what happens, even if the ban continues, that phone will still function because it was releases ,it was sold and it was manufactured and approved prior to any of these restrictions taking place,” says Mohamed.
He says consumers with older phones still have a legal commitment from Huawei and Google to fulfil the services initially offered.
Huawei explains how consumers will be able to access most applications on their new devices. Instead of downloading apps from the Google Play Store, users will now use HMS App store.
“The device runs Android, 80% of applications should still run,” says Mohamed.
The Apps including WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook Gmail, and Google maps can still run on Huawei devices.
However, instead of downloading American Apps like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter directly from the HMS App store, users will have to search for the apps on their browser and download them from the internet.
Facebook works on the new smartphones, but to download it, one will have to use a link. Google Maps also works, but not all functionalities are available. Google Maps will not save locations on new Huawei devices like it did in previous models.
As phone makers aim to offer a more seamless experience when using smartphones, they say it is not worried about the additional step in accessing some applications as being a turnoff to users.
Google, however, has issued a warning to consumers, advising them not to sideload its Android Apps on the new Huawei devices. These include Google Mail (GMAIL) and Google Maps.
“We have continued to receive a number of questions about new Huawei devices (e.g., new models launching now, or earlier models launched after May 16, 2019 but now becoming available in new regions of the world) and whether Google’s apps and services can be used on these devices,” notes Google.
“Due to government restrictions, Google’s apps and services are not available for preload or sideload on new Huawei devices,” Google mentions.
Huawei however advises that it has added security measures that warn consumers if the Apps they are downloading are not safe. Huawei says being a third player in the market will benefit consumers as it will drive costs down and competition between brands increases.
We asked the question: Should the ban be lifted in the future, would Huawei drop its HMS and go back to using Google services?
Here is Mohamed’s answer: “We’d have to see at the time, but what I can say is that It’s one of the reasons we’re still using Android.”
Android is very mature and Android was not created just by Google. It’s been through a partnership of companies, Huawei being one of them,” says Mohamed.
He says Huawei has been involved in helping Android grow which is why the companies still run their phones on Android.
“So perhaps if that goes away, we might still have some collaboration. At the same time, we have invested a lot into HMS, we have our own capabilities. We can produce something I think that’s the message. We’ll have to see when that happens,” says Mohamed.