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Huawei phone set for September launch without Google apps

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Huawei won't be able to pre-load its new smartphone with Google apps like Gmail and YouTube, creating new headwinds for the Chinese firm facing US sanctions. AFP

Huawei phone set for September launch without Google apps

Huawei’s upcoming flagship Mate 30 smartphone will launch this month without key Google apps, creating a disadvantage for the Chinese tech giant hit by US sanctions.

A Google spokesperson confirmed on Thursday that the California firm won’t be able to deliver licensed applications such as Gmail, Maps and YouTube for the new device because of sanctions imposed by US President Donald Trump.

As a result, Huawei will be able to pre-load only the open-source Android operating system.

The move could be another hit for Huawei, the tech powerhouse that became the number two global smartphone vendor before sanctions imposed by Washington over national security concerns, which prevent the export of US technology.

While the US administration has granted a fresh 90-day suspension of the Huawei sanctions, this won’t apply to new products, according to Google.

Analyst Richard Windsor, who writes the Radio Free Mobile blog, said that without these apps, “Huawei faces a Herculean task to convince users to buy its device” and will likely lose most buyers outside its home market.

Windsor said that while Chinese users are accustomed to buying “blank” smartphones and then installing their own software, most buyers in other countries expect these services to be pre-loaded.

“All of Huawei’s competitors will still have Google installed. This will make it very difficult to entice users to buy Huawei devices as they will lack the single most important feature that needs to be present when a user buys an Android device outside of China,” Windsor wrote.

Huawei has begun to develop its own mobile operating system called HarmonyOS but it remained unclear if it will be able to maintain its market share outside China.

Asked about the situation, Huawei said in a statement, “We will continue to use the Android OS and ecosystem if the US government allows us to do so. Otherwise, we will continue to develop our own operating system and ecosystem.”

Huawei was expected to unveil the Mate 30, its newest high-end handset, at an event in Germany on September 18.

US officials claim Huawei poses a threat because of its ties to Chinese intelligence, allegations that the company vigorously denied.

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