Can Huawei survive without US components, technologies?

by May 21, 2019 0 comments

Two days before, Huawei received bad news from Google following an order by the US commerce department to ban Android license for the Chinese telecommunications giant. Today, the US department of commerce issued a temporary license to allow Huawei to push software updates to its existing devices.

While according to the media reports, Huawei has stored enough US-made components that can last approx. a year, but at some point, the reserved parts could run out. Is the Chinese tech giant prepared for this life-threatening crisis? Huawei which has now moved to second spot in the global smartphone market is now having a difficult challenge: either to find a way to manufacture a smartphone without the US components and technology or exit the smartphone business entirely.

One advantage that the company has is that it designs its own processors for its Android phones, but apart from that the Chinese tech giant relies heavily on foreign components. For instance, in its latest phone, the P30 Pro, there is Corning Gorilla Glass, flash storage from Micron, 3G and LTE networking components and most importantly Android operating from Google.

While Huawei says, it is working on its own operating system to replace Android and is reportedly ready if it comes to it. However, Still, if the ban holds up, the company will be forced to find a lot of replacements all at once.

The after effects

Gorilla Glass maker Corning is from the US and Huawei has been relying on it for its recent smartphones, as well as Windows laptops. Thus, in the event of ban, the company would have to pick another provider such as AGC Asahi Glass, a Japanese brand that produces Dragontrail glass. Google in its Pixel 3a has used Dragontrail to cut costs.

Presently, Idaho (US) based Micron supplied storage chip for the P30 Pro smartphone, but with the US commerce order has suspended its shipments to Huawei. Post ban, the company could look for Toshiba and Samsung as possible partners. The company is also said to be working on its own flash storage chip.

While Google has suspended Huawei’s Android license, however, it can use Android Open Source Project (AOSP), meaning the company will now lag behind in pushing security patches and other updates to its smartphones.

According to Google, the users of existing Huawei devices that were purchased on or before May 16 aren’t impacted of these changes.

Other components such as OLED display is supplied to Huawei from Samsung, LG; and the camera array is supplied by Sunny Optical, a Chinese brand. Thus, it highly unlikely, these companies will stop supplying to Huawei.

There is no surprise that Huawei won’t be hurt by this order, but imagine if China stops supplying electronics to international market, it will have a much more adverse effect on most of the companies.

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