2 min readWhat the Huawei disaster tells us about Google’s power over Android

Google has banned Huawei from utilizing its developer platform. This shows us the power Google has over the supposedly open sourced Android.

Android is being marketed as open source, but the recent fiasco [read this news published by Reuters to understand] shows us exactly how tight a grip Google has on this phone ecosystem. 

Last May, Huawei became part of the “Entity List” which included companies banned from partnering with US companies without government approval. As a Google Hardware Partner, Huawei used to have access to various Google services that enabled it to take advantage of features such as push notification, GPS tracking, and Google assistant, among others. With the blacklist, Huawei will be forced to develop its own phone ecosystem from scratch – a feat that would require tons of resources to be used. 

Why It Matters

There are several important points to take note of in this article. First, we will remember how in its early years, Google used the motto “Don’t be evil” which served as the company’s ethical compass. It was meant to remind its stockholders, company executives, and employees of the Google’s business goal: to always prioritize long-term values over financial gain, to make the world a better place. 

In fact, Google chose to leave the Chinese market in 2010, in response to the wider and deeper censorship rules in the country. This move was something no traditional company would do, has made Google an ambassador for online freedom. 

But 8 years since, Google’s true face comes to light. For one, the issue with Huawei shows us how Google has become no more than a gatekeeper, forced to do the government’s bidding in order to continue doing business.

Next, Google has made the Android core platform no more than a shell. Core functionalities have become subsumed under Google’s proprietary apps and services which meant that if companies wanted to use them, they would have to adhere to Google’s strict rules and conventions. 

Because Google partners could only use Google apps in the smartphones they ship out, the company could have access to billions of information coming from various android users. Through this business design, Google was also able to ensure its dominance as smartphone operating system. 

Why did Google remove Huawei as a hardware partner even when the latter has not expressly violated partner rules? Why didn’t it defy the US government order, even when Google used to fight for online freedoms?

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