Huawei has struggled to gain traction in the US market for the last few years, but things went from bad to worse a few weeks back when the US Commerce Department announced a ban on technology exports to the Chinese firm. Google fell in line, severing business ties with Huawei along with countless other US companies. That could cut Huawei off from Android updates. However, the Financial Times reports that Google is working hard behind the scenes to secure a government exemption for Android.
Android is open source, but the parts of Android that make it popular are licensed by Google. With future access to Android updates in doubt, Huawei has reportedly been working toward deploying its own hybrid operating system that runs Android apps but doesn't have any Google technology. Google is reportedly lobbying the US government, taking the position that blocking Huawei from doing business with Google is actually the greater security risk. Google argues that Huawei's custom operating system would be easier to hack than an operating system it develops, and the Chinese government could more easily infiltrate such software.
Huawei is currently on a 90-day reprieve before the ban goes into effect. Google is asking the Commerce Department to extend that reprieve so it has time to work out a solution, but what it really wants is a permanent exemption. Google is on the same page as other US companies like Qualcomm that are worried about the financial impact of being cut off from a large customer. We don't know how all of this will shake out—no one is talking on the record.
- Financial Times