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Does Huawei Google Ban Expose Retailers & Carriers To Claims?

Buying and selling a Huawei, Oppo or other Chinese smartphone has suddenly become a major risk for both consumers and those that sell the Chinese made devices claim industry executives.

Overnight news has surfaced that Google has stopped the supply of Android software updates to Huawei smartphones which is linked with Google trying to curry favour with the US Federal Administration.

In Australia this could present a major problem for both retailers and carriers as consumers have purchased a Huawei product, based on the expectation that their $1,000+ device can be updated in the future.

An Optus spokesperson said the company “is currently working with Huawei and Google to understand the impacts of this news to our customers”.

Vodafone Australia said much the same thing.

The big question now is where the liability lies when Google pumps out an upgrade to their latest OS and the owners of Chinese made smartphones from brands such as Huawei and Oppo cannot access the software or Android functions such as Maps or GMail become inoperable.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has indicated consumers are entitled to a refund or replacement under rights contained in Australian consumer law, and these rights extend to “software or security updates that are required for mobile devices to operate effectively”.

The Commission was “unable to comment on specific businesses” but said consumer guarantees apply to all goods for a reasonable time, adding “a reasonable time” is dependent on all related circumstances in a particular case, and doesn’t necessarily depend on the time since a purchase was made.

The next big Android OS update is expected in July or August and this could be a major problem as Huawei and other Chinese phone brands struggle to find a fix or alternate OS.

The Huawei devices that are set to be affected include the following.

– Huawei P30/P30 Pro
– Huawei Mate 20/Mate 20 Pro/Mate 20 X
– Huawei Mate 20 RS Porsche
– Huawei P20/P20 Pro
– Huawei Mate 10 Pro
– Huawei Mate 9 Porsche (in China)
– Huawei P10
– Huawei Nova 4e
– Huawei Nova 3
– Huawei P Smart 2019/P Smart Plus 2019
– Huawei Enjoy 9e/9s

ChannelNews understands that the ban could also affect Oppo and ZTE devices.

Oppo
– F11 Pro
– Oppo R15
– Reno

ZTE:
– Nubia Red Magic Mars
– Blade V10

According to one industry source who works for a Chinese handset make the move by the US Government is set to have serious ramifications in Australia.

“Consumers buy a Huawei device based on the expectation that it can be upgraded and the big question for resellers is who is going to take responsibility for the liability when a consumer wants to return for example a new $1,500 P30 device.

The move by Google also creates a dilemma for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission as Huewei has sold the device in good faith and on the basis that it can be updated.

ChannelNews understands that the Chinese giant will immediately lose access to updates to Google’s Android operating system as well as the Google Play Store and Gmail and YouTube apps.

Owners of a Huawei smartphone will also not be able to get access to the Chrome browser, currently available through Google’s Play Store handsets as those services are not covered by the open source licence and require a commercial agreement with Google. Also denied will be location tracker as well as Google Maps.

“Huawei will only be able to use the public version of Android and will not be able to get access to proprietary apps and services from Google,” the source said. This is in essence a Linux kernel that all of Googles other software sits on. A license is needed from Google to activate this additional software.

The move to try and nobble Huawei smartphone sales came into effect after the Trump administration in the USA added Huawei Technologies to a trade blacklist, immediately enacting restrictions that will make it extremely difficult for the company to do business with US counterparts.

Huawei attorneys are currently studying the impact of the blacklist, a Huawei spokesman said over the weekend.

Huawei will however continue to have access to the version of the Android operating system available through the open source license, known as Android Open Source Project (AOSP), that is available for free to anyone who wishes to use it however very few carriers use this version.

Google has also stopped Huewei getting access to technical support and collaboration involving its proprietary apps and services from now, the source said.

This is a major blow as the unlock key to the effectiveness of the Android OS is the smooth way that apps downloaded to the OS actually work, this includes apps such as Facebook, games, Instagram and apps such as Office 365.

Speculating is also mounting that Microsoft could move on Chinese notebook manufacturers of notebooks, servers and desktop PC’s.

Huawei claims that they have spent the past few years preparing a contingency plan by developing its own technology in case it is blocked from using Android. Some of this technology is already being used in products sold in China, the company a spokesperson said.

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