The epic saga of the US-China trade war continues, with both sides having dealt heavy blows already; the USA has blacklisted several Chinese tech companies, while China has adamantly done the same, warning other companies of serious consequences if they continue to cooperate with the Trump administration. The most notable aspect of this tit-for-tat so far has been Google’s decision to remove the Android OS from Huawei devices, an act which might negatively impact the search engine giant itself.
In a response to the Trump Ban, Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei stated that if Huawei ditches Android, Google will stand to lose 800 million users.
“Huawei and Google will always be on the same line of interest, and if we don’t load Google’s system, Google will lose 700-800 million users in the future,” the Chinese executive said.
This is a considerable number by any standard, even if you happen to be one of the most valuable tech companies in the world. On one hand, it is not all that surprising considering how Huawei is the second largest manufacturer of smartphones worldwide thereby wielding an immense base of Android users.
On the other hand, it is a potentially loss that Google has somehow either failed to account for, or is ready to sacrifice a considerable portion of its consumers in order to comply with the Trump Ban.
It is tempting to dismiss the quoted figure as illegitimate and nothing more than a ruse to pressurize Google and other US tech companies considering blacklisting Chinese firms. However, given that this information comes from the CEO himself, a man who no doubt possesses reliable mobile analytics and usage data, it is extremely likely that the figure is pretty much accurate.
So it’s all gloomy for Google if the deal goes through, right? Not quite, because one has to consider the loyalty of the Huawei users themselves. There is no evidence to suggest that all 800 million of those users will willingly shift from Android to HongMeng OS. After all, there is a reason why Huawei sales in Europe, particularly in Germany and Spain, have been on the decline ever since the announcement of the Trump Ban.
It is far more reasonable to believe that the preference for Android is strong enough to compel the vast majority of Huawei users to jump ship and use other devices that support the operating system instead.
Therefore, while the Chinese smartphone giant certainly has a huge consumer base, the quality and popularity of Google’s operating system will ensure that the US company won’t lose that many users.