Why isn't Google fighting harder for Android?

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
Why isn't Google fighting harder for Android?
This week, Huawei turned from the world's second-largest phone maker into a pawn in the US cold war with China. The White House issued a generic executive order that doesn't mention Huawei in particular but forbids American companies doing any business with a "foreign adversary," and on Monday Google pulled the rug under Huawei by announcing that it will stop its Android licensing.

No matter how you slice it, Huawei's phone business outside China is toast, and its participation in building out the world's 5G infrastructure crippled despite its market-leading technology. Let's not kid ourselves, there will be no sideloading of Google apps on Huawei and Honor phones, no porting of Instagram to Huawei's lab-grown effort, and "third OS" fantasies are just that for the foreseeable future.

Google didn't bat an eye that the move turned the daily drivers of a 100 million people outside of China into glorified feature phones and immediately ate some crow on the next day when the White House issued a stay on its own executive order. 


Both Congress and Federal courts can strike down executive orders that they consider excessive for a president's Constitutional authority. President Trump's executive orders have been overturned before. This March, a judge ruled Trump's order for lifting the oil drill ban on most of the Arctic Ocean off the coast of Alaska "unlawful and invalid," stopping its execution. 

Granted, when an executive order is clad in the skin of the holy "national security" cow, the task would be harder but Google could've simply bided for time. It could've issued a boilerplate statement that it is in talks with Huawei to work out the consequences, or told the national security team that briefed them on the dangers of the P30, Red Menace edition, that they will wait for a more concrete proof before they give everyone a pause about Android.

It could've, and it would've looked much better the next day when the executive order was stayed, hinting strongly towards its use as a poker chip in the larger trade war. Google did none of those things. Despite all the talk during I/O about its Android privacy and security boost, Google immediately pulled the rug under Huawei, instead of carefully balancing the government's request with the need to protect the integrity of Android.

Google vs Apple on Federal Government


Juxtapose this with Apple's reactions to Federal government meddling in private businesses or picking winners and losers. When an unprecedented order by a federal judge tried to force Apple to decrypt an iPhone 5c for the FBI, chief executive Tim Cook immediately came out with an open letter stating that "the government is asking Apple to hack our own users," and Apple refused to comply. Nothing bad happened, and the FBI found another way to deal with the case.

Furthermore, despite certain quarrels with the current administration about the number of "skilled workers" visas and tariffs on Chinese goods that would hurt the iPhone business, Apple is right there on Capitol Hill participating in the trade negotiations. Tim Cook is even advising the chief US negotiator Robert Lightizer on tariff implementation, and Apple's CEO is meeting with President Trump to lay out the potential repercussions for American businesses in the trade war.

Google spends $12.62 million on government lobbying in 2018, against Apple's $6.62 million, sends an empty chair to Congressional hearings on intelligence matters, and yet rolled over immediately to an executive order directly affecting the integrity of one of its most popular products.

Google's empty chair at Congressional hearings tells you all you need to know about its US government strategy

Google's empty chair at Congressional hearings tells you all you need to know about its US government strategy




There are a few possible explanations why Google immediately threw Huawei under the bus on Monday only to reinstate it on Tuesday, and the least plausible one is that it had no options to balance the needs of the hundreds of millions who rely on their Android phones, with the administration's pomp and bluff in the cold war with China. 

On the other hand, after the initial brouhaha, Huawei's sizable market share will quickly be split between Samsung and others, so Google's licensing and ad revenue will largely remain intact. Android's street cred among phone makers and regular users alike, however, will be dealt a significant blow. 

What do you think, was Google's hasty and unprecedented Android license revocation just a PR blunder, or did the moment go against its early "don't be evil" ethos? Oops, last year that one was replaced with a simpler "do the right thing" code.

Why isn't Google fighting harder for Android in the case of Huawei?

It had no other options
27.73%
It knows that Huawei's Android market share will quickly go to Samsung, LG, or even the Pixels
72.27%

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18 Comments

1. alanrock

Posts: 264; Member since: Oct 04, 2018

first to abandon sinking ship is Google ...

8. TheOracle1

Posts: 2074; Member since: May 04, 2015

"Let's not kid ourselves, there will be no sideloading of Google apps on Huawei and Honor phones, no porting of Instagram to Huawei's lab-grown effort". Errmmm why not? APK Pure and Aptoide are perfectly viable alternatives. ".... turned the daily drivers of a 100 million people outside of China into glorified feature phones". Errmmm no it didn't. Current Huawei phones aren't affected and my P10 continues to hum along nicely. This article reads like a Google hit job and comparing it to Apple is deceptive. The two issues are completely different.

9. sgodsell

Posts: 6895; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

What were you expecting PhoneArena to do? Write the right stuff? They are a leader in click bait articles.

12. NarutoKage14

Posts: 1306; Member since: Aug 31, 2016

Agreed. Apple was asked for a tool to hack into the phones of what were basically convicted criminals. Google and other companies that do business with Huawei are caught in the middle of a "war". The U.S. intelligence and defense agencies have labeled Huawei a security threat. Google could fight back at the risk of getting slapped with treason for trying to help an enemy of the state. Absolutely no company wants to get hit with that.

2. CTHR100

Posts: 15; Member since: May 12, 2017

The comparison between Google and apple used is far to dissimilar to use in a reporting situation. Also, the government hasn't said there isn't proof. They have been talking about Huawei for years now. Over multiple administrations. It's just that now it's coming to this. I'd love to see what they have on the company. And think they should share it. However, in the event of it giving away or endangering something of need within the security world they can't. Again, hoping they are behaving as the good guys.

16. slim3bdo

Posts: 158; Member since: Jun 05, 2017

Keep waiting for proof , just like the proof the usa said it had against iraq of having weapons of mass destruction . Rofl !!!

3. afrohoxha

Posts: 221; Member since: Mar 13, 2014

A refuse to comply to a president executive order regarding national security on another country with a different type of regime, and an order by a federal judge for something that could impact privacy of its own citizens have the same consequences on the company...NOT. I sensed an Apple glorification article since reading the title and wasn't disappointed. Please...

4. Mikele

Posts: 110; Member since: Nov 19, 2013

Acting so quickly to dump Executive orders that would affects their businesses was stupidity and irrationality without considering the fact that Huawei for the past years have rejuvenated Android usage with their vibrant production qualities.

5. inFla

Posts: 59; Member since: Aug 17, 2018

In other words, please don't take my cheap commie phones.

6. BlackhawkFlys

Posts: 904; Member since: May 07, 2014

The Chinese could cripple Android if all the Chinese OEMs unite to create another operating system or another fork of Android and create a combined app store. They have a massive market share and developers will be happy to port their apps to a Chinese OS. The US is not a favorable country for tech companies these days and it's unreliable. Tech companies, especially software companies should move out to countries such as Sweden, UAE, Norway etc.

13. Fred3

Posts: 397; Member since: Jan 16, 2018

That would take years to do, it's not that simple.

7. ssallen

Posts: 158; Member since: Oct 06, 2017

This whole article is a spin up job from an author who just wants to write negative Google articles. Its all just speculation and claims derived from schadenfreude. There are nine million things happening behind the scenes right now covering every aspect of this situation and we all know precisely jack s**t about it. Yet, this author wants to cherry pick for his precious narrative.

10. Back_from_beyond

Posts: 1239; Member since: Sep 04, 2015

The author of this smear campaign clearly forgets it wasn't just Google who turned its back on Huawei, several other big tech companies did the same, despite it costing them as well. So why the hate against Google? The comparison offered to Apple is so ridiculously skewed that it doesn't even make sense to bring it up. At the end of the day Google protected Android and its other businesses by telling Huawei: Goodbye for now. You can't fault Google for choosing their own interests over Huawei's, if anything they did exactly what they should have done on the short term and will no doubt aim to change things on the long term.

11. superguy

Posts: 415; Member since: Jul 15, 2011

PA, stay out of the political arena. It's disingenuous to compare a ban based on security concerns to one based on constitutional grounds. They're not even close to the same thing. Concerns over Huawei have been going on for over 20 years. China doesn't play by the same rules US companies are required to, and many companies have partial state ownership which also complicates things. Huawei has done some shady stuff over the years, and there are legitimate concerns over spying (i.e. resisting the Chinese government is much more difficult than a US company resisting the US government) and ripping off US tech. They already were caught ripping off Cisco tech, making nearly identical network equipment to Cisco using slightly modified closed source Cisco IOS - and stealing tech from T-mobile. There are also concerns over the founder being associated with the Chinese Army and being a member of the Communist Party. Gooogle Huawei Founder. It's easy to find. It's easy to question why a government is doing something and why they have concerns when they won't talk about it - but that's the way things go in the security arena. Anyone who is not qualified to speak on topics like this (like you) can freely express their opinion, while those who actually know and are qualified cannot speak at all. Like another poster said, there's a lot going on behind the curtain that we can't see, and we have to hope that they're doing the right thing here. Huawei isn't a poor picked on company. Many other countries have had the same suspicions for a long time, and that's not from the US whipping up FUD on it. If, indeed, the concerns are unfounded, they won't be banned forever. ZTE got itself unbanned. Other Chinese companies aren't banned. You may want to read up on the topic before spouting off half-cocked.

15. LiveFaith

Posts: 363; Member since: Jul 04, 2015

The refusal to stop dumping political opinion repeatedly on a tech site is precisely why I left Android Central a few years ago. Be smart. Your customers come here for your tech opinion. We don't care what you think politically.

14. NarutoKage14

Posts: 1306; Member since: Aug 31, 2016

I'll say this. Huawei has been declared a security threat. There is a term for helping enemies of the state. Treason.

18. Pssst3

Posts: 4; Member since: May 23, 2019

The same term applies to someone who weakens "his" country's institutions and ties to long time military and economic allies, whether through fear, malice, or ignorance.

17. Pssst3

Posts: 4; Member since: May 23, 2019

IMO Google has reailzed that Chinese phone makers who build for their local market rather than as fabrication shops for foreign companies don't need the US market or Google's Android apps. They can use open source GUIs of their own on top of a Linux kernel and local developers who code in Chinese for Chinese consumers. If you combine this with Android One and Google's extensions of Chrome OS, it's pretty clear that Google would be happier if it could handle all updates and apps for their platforms, instead of needing to deal with manufacturers who embed their own basic applets and then don't support them for more than a year, two at most. In the past two years Chrome OS has gone through +20 generations of universally accepted incremental updates without obsoleting Chromebooks, while the 5 generations of Android have been reluctantly adopted at a snails pace, due to the manufacturers only providing new OS versions on new hardware.

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