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Huawei vs the US: A timeline

An FAQ on Huawei’s problems

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Who’s afraid of Huawei? Right now, everyone is. Does anyone really know why?

Since 2017, the US has dealt continuous blows against the Chinese company. More than two years later, the war is still in full swing. Both sides have fired multiple salvos against the other. Still, despite the conflict’s longevity, most people are not really sure what’s happening.

Why are they fighting? Should we stay away from Huawei? Is it time to get rid of our Huawei devices as soon as possible? Should we really fear for our cybersecurity?

For ordinary consumers, the entire Huawei debacle is mired in political lingo and endless controversy. It’s time to clear the air. What’s up, Huawei?

How did this all begin?

Let’s go back to where it all started. In late 2017, American lawmakers reviewed the businesses of ZTE, another Chinese tech company. Soon after, the investigation unveiled a flurry of shady business deals involving Iran. By law, companies operating in the US are not allowed to communicate with blacklisted countries including North Korea and Iran. Naturally, the violation caused monumental sanctions against ZTE. The US banned ZTE from American soil — effectively, the same ban on Huawei today.

At this time, Huawei was just a moderately innocent passerby stuck between two fighting giants. At most, Huawei was accused of spying on its customers. American lawmakers proposed a boycott of Huawei’s products. The proposal drew from the emerging rise of Sinophobia. Still, at the time, the US government’s eyes were firmly on ZTE.

Current restrictions prevent Huawei from providing 5G technologies to American consumers

In its infancy, the Huawei-ZTE issue was a product of a small fear. It still hadn’t affected everyone. In fact, US President Donald Trump even tried to save both companies from utter destruction. Both companies enjoyed a reprieve from America’s ire. However, this was short-lived.

In a surprising about-face, Trump started his controversial trade war against China. The American leader abandoned his salvific efforts. Instead, he adopted an incredibly aggressive push against Chinese companies. Unsurprisingly, ZTE already crumbled from the initial push, leaving Trump without a company to make an example out of.

Trump set his sights on Huawei, the world’s second largest smartphone maker. His weapon: the same ban meant for ZTE. His motive: potential cybersecurity issues. This time, America means business. Recently, Trump finally pulled the trigger, enacting a total ban against Huawei on American soil. However, instead of just the US, Trump has been lobbying for a similar ban on other countries. Since then, Huawei has suffered a world of hurt.

What does the ban mean?

Naturally, a “total ban” sounds daunting. Banning Huawei smells like certain doom for the tech giant but what does the ban really mean?

When enforced, Huawei can no longer deal with American companies. To Huawei’s dismay, the tech maker uses a fair number of American components in its products. Most notably, Huawei’s smartphones come with Google’s Android. The ban will prevent Huawei from using the operating system going forward. On paper, this is a huge deal. Android remains the world’s biggest operating system. A lot of consumers trust Android. Huawei is losing a massive chunk of its package with the loss.

As if that wasn’t enough, Facebook — and its slew of apps — have withdrawn from Huawei’s products. The company’s smartphones will no longer have Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, or WhatsApp installed out of the box. The threat is becoming real.

Huawei makes its own chipsets but relies on several American companies for other components

Additionally, Intel, Broadcom, and Qualcomm have blacklisted Huawei after Google’s announcement. Huawei has also lost the support of the ubiquitous ARM chip architecture.

It’s not looking good for the Chinese company. Huawei is slowly being dismembered. Faced with an army of bans, it’s natural to worry about Huawei. Worst case scenario, Huawei will become a mere shadow of its former self, devoid of the components that helped its recent success.

Should we really worry, though?

Not just yet. Right now, Huawei is enjoying a temporary reprieve. Soon after the initial ban, the American government granted the company a three-month extension. Until around the end of August, Huawei can still operate with its current partnerships. Except Facebook, its devices will still ship with the same components we love. At least for the near future, Huawei is safe.

In the meantime, Huawei is hunting for adequate alternatives for its failing parts. This means a new operating system, new chips, and likely an entirely new package. To its credit, Huawei’s development team is working around the clock. Only a month removed from ground zero, they are already promising optimistic developments for the future. Huawei remains confident in their future, launching a bevy of new phones amidst the controversy.

Likewise, some American companies are also lamenting the loss of business. Before the ban, Huawei was a loyal customer, delivering American components to a massive global audience. They aren’t happy with Trump’s ban. For one, Google has publicly defended Huawei. According to them, Huawei’s — and subsequently, the world’s — cybersecurity standards will collapse without a collaboration between international companies. With Android, Google can act as Huawei’s checks and balances against potential cybersecurity threats from malicious forces. If anything, Huawei still has its share of public defenders.

The US ban will prevent Huawei from using Android as its operating system moving forward

Most importantly, Trump still has the power to reverse the ban before the 90-day extension runs out. If China and the US reach a meeting point, all might go back to normal. Though uncertain, it’s too early to give up on Huawei just yet.

What will Huawei 2.0 look like?

Unfortunately, Huawei’s future is muddled with uncertainty. This includes any potential iterations in the future. As far as we know, Huawei isn’t bleeding from the multitude of losses. The company has reinforced its Kirin chipsets. Further, they are developing their own dedicated operating system codenamed Ark OS.

Other than that, there’s not much to go on. Speculatively, the biggest changes will come from its app supports. If Google leaves, Huawei will be left without the Play Store’s support and security. The Chinese company will have to rely on its own native software to power their phones. Unfortunately, an all-Chinese ecosystem is less than ideal for most. In fact, having one might even justify the American Sinophobia. But again, it’s all up in the air.

I have a Huawei phone. Should I just sell it?

No, you still shouldn’t. The grey market is already doubling down against the onslaught of Huawei returns. If you don’t know a willing contact, finding a buyer will be difficult. If you do find one, you’ll receive only a mere fraction of what you paid for.

At its current iteration, Huawei’s phones are still on top. They are a delight to hold and use, and if anything, have challenged its competitors to offer better value to consumers over the years. Right now, it’s best to play the long game. Wait and see what happens. If anything, Huawei — and its official partners — already has an insurance policy in place. Several retailers have declared a 100 percent refund policy in countries like Singapore. If Google cuts the cord, Huawei users can get their money back.

Similarly, Google has promised Android Q support for existing Huawei handsets. Just this week Huawei also announced the rollout of Android-based EMUI 9.1 to older models. If you already own one, a Huawei phone shouldn’t be an immediate cause for panic.

So, should we really be worried about Huawei?

Understandably, uncertainty isn’t an ideal for everyone. Huawei’s troubles are an excruciating thorn for both businesses and consumers alike. Switching to another brand is a natural solution against the company’s shaky future. However, if you’re looking at the silver lining, worrying is likely a premature reaction. If you’re not a Huawei user, the controversies shouldn’t affect you. If you’re already a Huawei user or looking to buy a Huawei device, it will likely pay off to play a longer strategy. After all, Huawei devices are still some of the best smartphones you can buy on the market.

Editor’s Note: Looks like we really shouldn’t worry after all. Not even an entire day has passed since this article was originally published but Huawei no longer banned in the US. Rejoice, Huawei users!

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Facebook faces British privacy lawsuit worth billions

For allegedly selling its users’ data

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The hits just don’t stop coming. Since being called out for alleged manipulation during the 2016 elections (and arguably before that), Facebook has endured hit after hit from privacy pundits, security firms, and global courts. Now, after much deliberation, criticisms and lawsuits against the platform are finally coming to roost. In Britain, for example, Facebook stands to lose billions in a privacy lawsuit from Britain.

As reported by Reuters, Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority senior adviser Liza Lovdahl Gormsen filed the huge lawsuit to represent British citizens who used the platform between 2015 and 2019 — which approximates 44 million people. The suit alleges that Facebook used unfair terms and conditions to force users to give up their rights to their own information. The entire lawsuit is worth GBP 2.3 billion (or approximately US$ 3.15 billion). Though Facebook is worth over US$ 100 billion now, such a lawsuit likely isn’t insignificant to the company.

But, of course, it doesn’t come without precedent. Last year, the company was scrutinized extensively because of whistleblower Frances Haugen’s revelations. According to the former Facebook employee, the platform knowingly creates ruptures in societies everywhere in the world. Besides its effect on mental health and geopolitics, Facebook was also criticized for selling personal data and treating its users as marketable products.

While Britain’s claim is already extensive, it is far from the only country looking to break the company up. The platform is also facing issues in its own home turf for the same charges. The year is just starting, and this likely won’t be Facebook’s last trip to the legal battlefield.

SEE ALSO: Facebook will force at-risk users to use two-factor authentication

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Samsung inexplicably delays Exynos 2200 launch

No new date set yet

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Before launching the next Galaxy S flagship series, Samsung often unveils the attached Exynos processor ahead of time. However, this year’s Exynos 2200 is still suspiciously absent. According to sources, Samsung was initially set to launch the new chips on January 11. Since it’s already February 12, the chip’s launch is obviously delayed for an inexplicable reason.

The delay did not come with any warning. The Exynos 2200’s launch date came and… nothing. No word from Samsung on a delay reason or even a new launch date. Even Ice Universe, one of the most knowledgeable sources for Samsung, is scratching their head, wondering why Samsung suddenly backed out of the date.

It isn’t Samsung’s first delay, though. Since the start of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the world is going through a massive semiconductor shortage. Several devices have been delayed or are undergoing stock problems. Samsung had already pushed back dates in the past. However, this is a rare last-minute delay.

Of course, despite the delay, Samsung still has time to release the Exynos 2200 before the Galaxy S22’s launch. According to a recent source, Samsung is set to launch the next flagship series on February 8. The upcoming chipset will reportedly perform at par with the recently launched Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. Amid inexplicable delays, Samsung still has several launches up its sleeve.

Postponements likely won’t mean much in the grander scheme of things, but it will be an interesting tale to hear why Samsung had to back all of a sudden.

SEE ALSO: Samsung unveils 2022 sustainability initiatives

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Tencent reportedly acquires Xiaomi’s Black Shark division

For 3 billion yuan

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The gaming smartphone market is thriving with a few companies building their own divisions dedicated to the niche segment. With the market’s success escalating, more companies want to join in on the fun. Unfortunately, despite their desire, some brands don’t really have any smartphone assets to begin with, leading to buyouts and takeovers. An example of that, Tencent is reportedly buying Xiaomi’s Black Shark gaming arm.

Revealed on his Twitter, tech leaker Abhishek Yadav unveiled the upcoming plans. Chinese gaming company Tencent will acquire the gaming smartphone brand for a staggering CNY 3 billion. However, the leak did not reveal any additional details surrounding the acquisition. Of course, there are a lot of possibilities with such a deal.

Though the company is known for its varied gallery of games, Tencent has also dabbled in other markets. For example, the brand has previously partnered with gaming smartphones to either promote itself or build a phone with the brand’s games packed in.

On the other hand, Black Shark is Xiaomi’s take on the gaming smartphone market. Several Chinese smartphone makers created separate brands to delineate their flagship arm from their forays into mobile gaming. Last year, the brand released its latest flagship, the Black Shark 4.

Given their profiles, a Tencent x Black Shark partnership is either a match made in heaven or an unlikely pairing. A gaming company acquiring another gaming brand does make sense, but Tencent doesn’t have much experience creating smartphones besides the occasional partnership. Once confirmed, the leaked deal will have a lot to prove in the gaming community.

SEE ALSO: Black Shark 4: Price and availability in the Philippines

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