Facebook Suspends Apps From New Huawei Smartphones

Facebook has reportedly suspended the pre-loading of its widely-used apps on all new Huawei smartphones.

The move means that the WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facebook app will no longer be pre-loaded on any new Huawei smartphones that leave the factory.

That said, existing Huawei smartphone users who have already got those apps installed on their devices, should still be able to use the apps and receive updates. And the apps can be downloaded onto new devices from the Google Play Store – for now at least.

Agreement suspension

It is common practice for smartphone vendors to reach agreements with firms such as Twitter, Facebook and Google to pre-load their apps on their smartphones.

But according to Reuters, Facebook has suspended this agreement, and the move will further cause worry about the impact on smartphone sales for the Chinese firm, which was a large revenue generator last year thanks to growth in both Europe and Asia.

Huawei has reportedly declined to comment on the matter.

Facebook also reportedly declined to comment on when the suspension took place.

If true, this is one of a number of troubling developments for Huawei as it contends with an executive order issued by President Donald Trump in mid May, that declared a national security emergency against Chinese firms.

Almost immediately after the President’s executive order, the US Commerce Department added Huawei and 70 affiliates to its so-called Entity List, which bans them from buying parts and components from US companies without US government approval.

That decision made it difficult, if not impossible, for Huawei, to sell some products because of its reliance on US suppliers for essential silicon and other components.

Just days later however the US Commerce Department announced a 90-day delay to the imposition of trade restrictions on Huawei.

This means the Chinese firm still allowed to buy US goods until 19 August.

Smartphone troubles

But already there are worrying signs.

Google said that after 19 August, it will restrict Huawei’s access to future Android operating system updates, which impacts Huawei’s ability to offer popular Google apps on its phones in the future.

Google’s Play Store and all Google apps will still be available for current and future models of Huawei phones. But this is likely to change going forward.

And firms such as British chip designer ARM, as well as Intel, Qualcomm, Xilinx and Broadcom have said they are halting co-operation with Huawei.

Huawei meanwhile has had to deny media reports that it has cut or cancelled orders to major suppliers of components for its smartphones and telecom equipment.

Earlier this week for example the Nikkei Asian Review reported that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd (TSMC) confirmed that “orders from Huawei have declined since the Chinese company was hit with a de facto ban on using US technology.”

Huawei disputed that.

Likewise last week Huawei denied a report in the South China Morning Post, which cited unnamed sources, as saying that Foxconn has halted production lines for several Huawei phones, following the reduced orders for new devices from Huawei.

Huawei told Silicon UK at the time that it was not cutting back on orders.

For the moment at least, users who purchase Huawei smartphones that do not include pre-loaded Facebook apps, should still be able to download them from the Google Play Store.

But it is worth noting that future versions of Huawei phones will not have access to the Google Play Store and its apps unless the US government changes its mind.

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Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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