If you don’t know that Huawei has been all over the news recently, you should check your pulse because you might be dead.
If you’ve heard about the issue but haven’t had time to read up about it, we’ll fill in on the what, why, when and how of it all.
What’s the most recent controversy?
US president Donald J. Trump signed an executive order blacklisting Huawei on May 15, 2019.
By May 20, Google said they will no longer do business with Huawei.
US or US-linked phone parts manufacturers like ARM, Intel and Qualcomm also cut all dealings with Huawei.
After massive public outcry across the world, the US government later granted a grace period of 90 days for Google to work with Huawei on devices already in the market.
Thankfully, the millions of people who are currently using Huawei devices like the P20 and P30 series would still have access to Google services.
For Huawei users’ questions regarding our steps to comply w/ the recent US government actions: We assure you while we are complying with all US gov’t requirements, services like Google Play & security from Google Play Protect will keep functioning on your existing Huawei device.— Android (@Android) May 20, 2019
Huawei said they will continue to provide security updates and after sales services to all existing Huawei and Honor devices.
But they did not mention feature updates which means Huawei and Honor devices might not get the upgrades that will arrive with the upcoming Android Q.
How did Huawei react?
Huawei responded with the announcement that they’ve been working on their own Linux-based operating system since 2012.
Reports say it’ll be compatible with Android and web applications and usable on phones, tablets and laptops.
Details about the OS are still sketchy but that’s important for people who already own Huawei phones so we’ll come back to that later.
Huawei also says they stockpiled enough parts for 12 months of production and are looking at making their own parts, though concerns have been raised about their ability to make some of the things they’ll need.
Honor also went ahead and launched their new Honor 20 Series of phones just days after Google’s announcement, with a tiny price bump to boot.
This could mean that Honor might shore up Huawei’s hold on the smartphone market as the brand is still young and pliable in the public eye.
What’s Malaysia’s reaction?
Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has backed Huawei, saying “We will make use of their [Huawei’s] technology as much as possible”.
This was because Malaysia is “an open book” with nothing to hide so if China was indeed spying, they could spy all they wanted.
He also stressed that the US must accept that Asian countries now have technological research and development capabilities that are just as strong.
China’s response to Dr Mahathir’s support has been overwhelmingly positive with their Ambassador to Malaysia saying the two countries would be friends forever.
What was that about Huawei’s new operating system?
The biggest challenge for Huawei would likely be whether third-party software developers will adopt the platform, a challenge which brought down Microsoft’s Windows Phone.
From what we understand, the Mandarin word Hongmeng (鸿蒙) culturally refers to a primal state during an ancient era in the Chinese mythology.
It took place before Pangu (盘古) – first living being and the creator of all in some versions of Chinese mythology – created the world.
Nowadays most people refer 鸿蒙 as ‘ancient times’ or the state of 鸿蒙初辟 (HongMengChuPi) as the beginning of something that’s never in prior existence, whereby 初(Chu) means the first or initial and 辟(Pi) means breakthrough or opening up.
Literally, 鸿 (Hong) is a type of bird 鸿雁 (HongYen), but also refers to grandness, greatness or vastness while 蒙 (Meng) means being covered or hidden, but when used as 启蒙 (QiMeng) that means to awaken, arise or enlighten.
What’s the deal with Huawei and the US?
When Huawei expanded to the US in 2001 it immediately became a target of the US government.
While most of the cases were either dropped or settled, Huawei has been accused of stealing intellectual property and even a robot arm by US companies.
In 2018, Huawei’s chief financial officer, and daughter of its founder, Meng Wanzhou was even arrested in Canada at the request of the US.
The US government has also banned its federal institutions from buying Huawei products which Huawei is challenging as unconstitutional, and the US also filed criminal charges against Huawei this year.
What other reasons could the US have for targeting Huawei?
Aside from the usual competition between the US and China, many see Huawei’s smartphone division and Huawei smartphone owners as collateral damage in the US government’s trade war with China over the development of 5G internet.
Currently, the fastest smartphone connection you can get is 4G but 5G internet is thousands of times faster and by most accounts, Huawei is far ahead of the competition in developing it.
The US government also insists the tech company is working with the Chinese government to spy on people across the world but have been unable to prove these allegations.
A bit more background on Huawei?
Huawei was founded in 1987 by Ren Zhengfei, a former engineer in the People’s Liberation Army.
It’s a Chinese company involved in lots of tech industries but has made devices like smartphones, tablets, laptops since 2009 and also develops telecommunications hardware.
A Huawei-owned company called Honor makes phones which target a younger audience.
Most smartphone users who buy Huawei and Honor devices appear to be “brand agnostic”.
This means that they’re looking to get the best smartphone possible for the best price possible.
Providing the best overall package for most smartphone users has grown Huawei to what it is now; the second largest smartphone company in the world after taking that spot from Apple in 2018