In the latest response from Huawei on the Trump Ban, Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei says that if Huawei ditches Android, Google will 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,” Zhengfei said.
The quoted number of potentially departing Android users is a curious one, considering that there’s little knowledge regarding how many Android users are currently using Huawei devices. Perhaps Huawei’s CEO knows this because of mobile analytics information, in the same way Google knows it has over 2 billion users on its mobile OS.
Outside of this, however, the number seems pulled out of thin air. There is something worthy about it, when one considers that Huawei is the second largest global manufacturer in the world and that many of its devices run Android (though some of its devices run Windows). So, perhaps the number is likely, probable, or even reasonable to imagine.
And yet, at the same time, there are a few factors worth considering. First, there’s the idea that Huawei is telling Google about its users and how many it will lose, but Google’s not at fault for the Trump Ban: President Donald Trump is. Trump is the one who has told American companies, of which Google is one, that it must not do business with Huawei without government approval.
Google has complied with official national order to revoke Huawei’s Android license, in the same way Huawei would comply with the Chinese Government if a directive was given. So Huawei can’t really blame Google or threaten Google with the loss of Android users because Google isn’t responsible for the ban.
Next, it isn’t the case that if Huawei leaves Android, Google will actually lose those 700-800 million users to Huawei’s new Hongmeng OS, the reason being that current information says precisely the exact opposite of Huawei’s claim. For example, with the Trump Ban, Huawei’s sales in Europe, in particular, Germany and Spain, are on the decline.
Additionally, European carriers are starting to turn away from Huawei phones. Vodafone, EE, and BT, all in Europe, are either no longer carrying Huawei phones or are turning down future mobile devices from Huawei. Smartphone users may like Huawei, but they can’t have a smartphone experience without cellular data from a wireless carrier.
This means that most European customers will visit carriers to select their next smartphone; if European carriers have started abandoning Huawei, it’s not a surprise to see that most European Huawei users will, too.
So, contrary to Huawei’s claim that Android will lose users, it appears as though many Huawei users are more loyal to Google’s Android than they are to Huawei itself. Should Huawei leave Android, these loyal Android users will find another OEM to ascribe loyalty to, such as Samsung, who has been the top-selling Android OEM on the market for years now.
Another thing that Huawei’s CEO hasn’t considered is that a number of smartphone users on the market don’t use one OEM exclusively. Tech enthusiasts, including reviewers, for example, use multiple smartphones from different Android OEMs.
Some smartphone users are using Huawei phones alongside Xiaomi phones, Samsung phones, or even iPhones for that matter. Smartphone users that use different phones from different OEMs will likely turn to an alternative OEM should Huawei leave Android because they have a number of others to choose from.
It isn’t as though EMUI offers a unique experience from Android that would keep users loyal to Huawei, anyway. Even Huawei has said that it has closely studied Android and iOS for years with regard to constructing its Hongmeng OS.
Huawei realizes how loyal its user base is to Android; this is why the company has sent emails to Google Play developers recently, requesting they develop their apps for Huawei’s own AppGallery app store. And as for Hongmeng OS, its greatest obstacle has been Android compatibility, with Huawei searching for a mobile OS that works well with Android. Huawei knows deep down that without Android, its business wouldn’t be as lucrative.
As for Huawei’s success in China, it could very well rise in light of this decision. Hongmeng OS would work for China. As a China mobile OS, Hongmeng would be embraced by nearly every smartphone user in Huawei’s user base (Chinese users don’t have Google’s Android to rely on, anyway).
Huawei has said that to combat the Trump Ban, it sees itself growing market share in China. There’s potential to do that because Huawei users don’t have, need, or want Google’s Android there. Outside of China in markets like Europe, Huawei’s largest market outside China, Android is vital, essential, to the mobile experience.
So with that said, it’s not entirely the case that the threat of the loss of 800 million users in Android is warranted, nor is it a probable claim. The number of potential loss may be probable, but the likelihood of Android losing that many users due to Huawei’s ban is slim.