Huawei Strikes Deal With TomTom For Smartphone Mapping Services

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Arrangement with Dutch navigation devices and services provider comes as Huawei looks for ways around US trade ban imposed last year

Huawei has struck a deal with TomTom to provide maps and services from the Dutch company in smartphones.

The deal comes as Huawei works to find ways around restrictions put in place by the US last year that prevent it from buying technology from Google and other Silicon Valley companies.

The arrangement means Huawei can use maps, traffic information and navigation software from TomTom to develop apps for Huawei smartphones.

The deal was closed some time ago but was not made public until now, TomTom told Reuters.  The company didn’t provide further details on the arrangement.

Huawei's Mate 30 launch in September.  Image credit: Huawei
Huawei’s Mate 30 launch in September. Image credit: Huawei

Smartphone apps

Following the US blockade Huawei introduced its own mobile operating system, called Harmony OS, although it has not yet announced smartphones running the software.

In September Huawei began introducing new smartphones, such as the Mate 30 and Mate 30 Pro, that run Google’s Android but do not include Google apps such as Google Maps, Gmail or YouTube.

The new phones also lack the Google Play Store, with users able to install apps via Huawei’s own service.

Vendor-controlled app stores are normal in China, where services operated by US companies including Google and Facebook are banned, but users in most other countries rely on Google Play.

Last week Huawei launched an effort in London last week to encourage developers to create new apps for Huawei Mobile Services (HMS), the platform it is presenting as an alternative to the Play Store, offering £20 million in incentives to developers.

To back up the effort Huawei launched 24 open-access kits for app functions such as location tracking, health and language services.

Huawei's Mate 30. Huawei
Huawei’s Mate 30. Image credit: Huawei

Business licence

US authorities began late last year to issue licences to individual companies allowing them do business with Huawei, with Microsoft as one of the recipients, but Google is not yet known to have been issued a licence.

TomTom is not required to have a licence as it is based outside the US.  The company already makes an app called TomTom Go for Android and iOS.

Huawei’s business dealings with US firms are covered for the time being by a “temporary general licence” that the US has renewed every 90 days since the Chinese firm was placed on the national security “Entity List” in May 2019.

The latest temporary general licence was renewed on 18 November and is set to expire in February.

US authorities said they put the licence into place to allow Huawei to continue to deliver necessary updates to existing hardware, including its telecommunications equipment – which is used by some US carriers – as well as existing smartphones.

But the temporary licence doesn’t cover new hardware, such as the Mate 30 and Mate 30 Pro.

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