ARM, EE and Microsoft form the latest companies to exclude Huawei

Huawei logo on the side of a building as people walk past
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Huawei is facing a host of challenges as more of its partners strip its products from their stores and exclude them from the latest lucrative deals.

A swathe of companies and partners to Huawei have announced this week that they won't be supporting the sales of Huawei devices, further damaging the company's chances of success outside of China.

The company has said that it will be working on its own mobile operating system as doubt is cast over its future with Android in the wake of President Trump's executive order imposed last week.

The restrictions have been loosed for the next 89 days, but after that time, all future Huawei devices released may not have a license to use the Android OS, meaning it must develop its own or use something else.

The problem with this is that whatever mobile OS it chooses to use, it's likely to cause difficulty for the company and its users with regards to the effectiveness of its functionality without a diverse ecosystem of apps made available for the freshly-developed OS in its infancy.

"This move will have critical impact toward Huawei's business around smart phones," said Charlie Dai, principal analyst at Forrester. "Huawei has its own mobile OS as a backup, but it's not fully ready yet and it's very difficult to build up the ecosystem as what Huawei has been doing on Android."

"Eventually, it's no good toward consumers around the world, and It's a pity that customer value facilitated by open-source spirit is now ruined by the politics," he added.

Speaking at an event in Brussels on Tuesday, Huawei's representative to the European Union institutions Abraham Liu said that current Huawei users needn't worry, but emphasised that future devices that will be launched are under threat.

"For existing models already in market - there is no major impact," he said, reported Bloomberg. "For the future [devices], both teams (Huawei and Google) are still working together to figure out what to do."

In other news, EE announced today that despite using Huawei equipment in its 5G launch next week, it will not be supporting Huawei phones for its initial 5G plans that are available for preorder today.

"Until we get the information and confidence that gives us the long term surety that our customers, when they buy those devices, are going to be supported for the lifetime they've got the device with us," said Marc Allera, CEO of BT's consumer brands.

Microsoft also stripped Huawei's MateBook X Pro laptop from its online store today, seemingly in response to the executive order against Chinese technology companies.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, a Huawei spokesperson said that the company valued its partners but "recognised the pressure some of them are under, as a result of politically motivated decisions".

"We are confident this regrettable situation can be resolved and our priority remains to continue to deliver world-class technology and products to our customers around the world."

It's the first sign of Microsoft's compliance with the order since the order took effect and also marks another challenge Huawei must overcome in order to stay competitive in the laptop market. It could signal the possibility that Huawei laptops may lose their license to support Windows OS, in which case Huawei may have to ship devices with a Linux-based OS or create their own for PCs too.

To make matter worse, the chipmaker ARM has instructed employees to suspend business with Huawei, according to an internal memo obtained by the BBC.

ARM produces technology that plays a strong role in the architecture of most mobile processors in the world. The memo reads that the company's designs contained "US origin technology" and could thus be affected by Trump's order.

One analyst speaking to the BBC said that if the move became permanent, then the consequences on Huawei's business would be "insurmountable".

Connor Jones

Connor Jones has been at the forefront of global cyber security news coverage for the past few years, breaking developments on major stories such as LockBit’s ransomware attack on Royal Mail International, and many others. He has also made sporadic appearances on the ITPro Podcast discussing topics from home desk setups all the way to hacking systems using prosthetic limbs. He has a master’s degree in Magazine Journalism from the University of Sheffield, and has previously written for the likes of Red Bull Esports and UNILAD tech during his career that started in 2015.