The Chinese tech giant Huawei this week reached a milestone in its ambitions to become the world’s largest smartphone maker by launching its first device with HarmonyOS, an internally developed operating system.
But Andy Purdy, chief security officer of Huawei USA, said the company still hoped to reunite it with Google (Google’s Android OS.
“We promised that we want to return to Google,” Purdy told Yahoo Finance Live. “But we are redoubling our efforts to try to increase our ability to live without American supplies because we must expect that we will not get these supplies,” he added.
Huawei has not been allowed to use Google OS since the US Department of Commerce blacklisted the Chinese company in 2019, US companies have not been allowed to sell its components under the guise of national security concerns. The Trump administration doubled its controls on exports last year, banning Huawei and its suppliers from using US technology and software.
The restrictions dealt a big blow to consumers facing Huawei, which has relied on Google’s Android OS for its devices. In response, the company developed its own operating system and introduced the Mate X2 foldable smartphone software for the first time.
“It was a really tough fight,” Purdy said. “But we have a very long-term approach, and it helps us prioritize our most important products and ingredients.”
US pressure has fundamentally changed Huawei’s global footprint, both on the consumer side and in the networking sector. After becoming the second largest smartphone maker in the world after Samsung, Huawei shipments fell 42% in the last three months of 2020. This puts the company behind Samsung, Apple (AAPL) and Xiaomi.
Huawei has worked hard to increase its self-reliance in the face of US sanctions. HiSilicon Technologies, the chip design arm, has ramped up production of advanced Kirin mobile processors in the immediate aftermath of Washington’s restrictions. But banning the use of US technology severely limited these efforts. The company is said to be in talks with several Chinese chip makers about potential investments that could fill gaps in the semiconductor supply chain.
Filling the void left by Google’s absence in software has proven to be an even greater challenge. Although Google services were banned in China, the use of Android allowed Huawei to attract users in regions such as Europe before the United States imposed sanctions. The company’s HarmonyOS works across devices and offers AppGallery instead of GooglePlay. It has over 500 million active users but lacks major names like Facebook (FB) and WhatsApp, and it is not available for direct download.
“The sooner we decide to start using Google again, the better,” Purdy said.
Akiko Fujita is a broadcaster and reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter Include a Tweet
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