The WIRED Guide to 5GEven without the 90-day exemption, Huawei will still be able to use Google's open source Android operating system for its phones. But Huawei won't be able to bundle Google's app store with those phones. That might not be a big deal in China, where smartphone users rely mostly on domestic apps like WeChat. But losing its license to use Google's mobile apps will hurt Huawei's smartphone sales in Europe, says mobile industry analyst Chetan Sharma. Huawei has been encouraging developers to submit apps to its own Huawei App Gallery, much as Amazon runs its own app store for its Fire tablets. But that requires convincing app developers to participate in yet another app market. Plus, many Android applications rely on proprietary Google software to run. That means Huawei would also need to convince many developers to rewrite parts of their applications. Huawei might be able to offer replacements for Google's proprietary tools, but US developers might not be allowed to contribute to Huawei's app store because of the Entity List restrictions. Huawei has also been developing its own operating system, but will face similar issues in attracting developers.Hardware might be a bigger concern for Huawei than apps. The company told Reuters that it will use substitutes for chips sold by US companies. In addition to making some of its own chips, Huawei might be able to buy chips for both its phones and network infrastructure gear from companies in countries like South Korea or Taiwan. But the longer the restrictions last, the harder it will be for Huawei to make do without sources for US chips.
In March, Huawei filed suit against the US government over legislation passed last year that banned government agencies from doing business with companies that use technology from Huawei and ZTE, arguing that the two companies were unfairly singled out. The suit challenges the US to provide evidence of nefarious action or intent by Huawei.Even if Huawei wins that suit, it won't help with the current ban, says Julian Ku, a professor of law at Hofstra University. He explains that the Commerce Department has broad authority to limit exports, and judges are reluctant to second-guess the agency. “The chances of success are much lower than its lawsuit against the law passed by Congress,” Ku says. “That earlier lawsuit is a longshot, but a lawsuit trying to challenge the entity list inclusion would be a super-duper long shot."That means that for Huawei, escaping US sanctions will rest on the US and China coming to a broader agreement to ease the distrust between the two nations. But an end to the trade war between the two countries isn't yet in sight.
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