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The Mate 30 series will not come with Google Mobile Services but Huawei remains upbeat

By Aaron Yip - on 22 Sep 2019, 11:53am

The Huawei Mate 30 series will not have access to Google Mobile Services

Note: This article was first published on 19 September 2019.

In what could be the mobile phone industry’s biggest “will it, or will it not” question, well, now we can say it definitively: Huawei's flagship smartphone series, the Mate 30, will not come with Google Mobile Services (GMS) installed.

It will be a test for the company to find out just how important the Google ecosystem is to its consumer business since being put on a trade blacklist by the United States back in May. This meant that the company’s latest products were effectively cut off from official access to Google apps and services like Google Map, YouTube and the Play Store.

Huawei will instead power the Mate 30 phones with a EMUI 10 operating system that is adapted from Google’s open source Android OS, which do not come with the above-mentioned apps and perhaps more crucially, security updates from Google. Third party apps like ride-hailing platforms and food delivery services, such as Grab and Food Panda that rely on Google Maps will also no longer function without access to Google services.

In the longer term, Huawei will be pushing its own operating system called Harmony OS, which was unveiled last month. But the company won’t be using it in smartphones for now; not until it managed to build up a sizeable app ecosystem from within and external. To this extent, Huawei made a point to note that the Mate 30 Pro's EMUI 10 will feature CC EAL5+ certification, an aviation-grade security on which is made possible with parts of the HarmonyOS microkernel architecture that's already making its way into parts of Huawei's software.

Huawei’s consumer business relies heavily on its products like their smartphones, which made up almost half of last year’s revenue. But without official access to apps that are only available on the Google Play Store, the Mate 30 and by extension the yet-to-be-launched foldable Mate X become a lot less attractive to mainstream customers, unless there are alternatives in the local markets that currently rely on GMS.

This alternative is the aforementioned Harmony OS, but Huawei knows and intends to fight the long battle with a US$1 billion war chest to attract developers to build apps around its own OS ecosystem. The other short-term solution, and I'm guessing here, is that Huawei could get itself involved in the thriving third-party custom ROM scene that live in forums such as XDA-developers. If Huawei opens up the Mate 30 series to ROM makers, there is hope yet to access GMS services without Huawei's official blessing.

This story is still developing...