Huawei is losing friends fast as a result of the US government’s recent decisions. The latest company to withdraw its support from the stricken Chinese manufacturer is a significant one, but it could equally be seen as fairly meaningless, at least for now.
That company is social media titan Facebook. Reuters reports (via The Verge) that Huawei will no longer be permitted to pre-install Facebook apps on its phones. This includes not only Facebook’s own apps, but also Instagram and WhatsApp, which it also owns. According to an anonymous source, this also applies to any Huawei device that hasn’t already left Huawei’s factory, both those that have yet to be made and those which are partially constructed.
Twitter and Booking.com, two other third-party apps commonly found on factory-fresh Huawei phones, have not commented on if they are considering a similar move, Reuters says.
Importantly, this ban only stops pre-installs. There is nothing stopping users who buy Huawei phones in the future from downloading these apps from the Google Play store and using them normally. That is of course while Google continues support for Huawei devices, which is set to expire in August, the end of a 90-day grace period granted by the US government after the ban commenced.
The substance of this ban is that Huawei and many of its subsidiaries are now included on the US "entity list," which means US companies cannot legally trade with it due to national security concerns, although there is currently no publicly available evidence that Huawei’s devices have been used to compromise US security. This has spilled out to businesses in other countries, such as the UK based microprocessor designer Arm, who do not want their other business to be affected by going against the US government’s decision.
Facebook pulling out is not as severe a blow as Google's or Arm’s withdrawal, which starve Huawei of its operating system and chips respectively. However it’s still without a doubt bad news for a company that could use some allies to help convince the US and other countries eyeing a ban that Huawei is just as safe as any other phone brand.