Huawei smartphone users and distributors in Cambodia have expressed concern following news of US tech giant Google severing ties with the Chinese telecoms and electronics manufacturer and partially cutting off their devices from its Android operating system.
On Monday, Google announced it had stopped transferring software, hardware and technical services to Huawei after US President Donald Trump placed the firm on a blacklist.
This will prevent Huawei smartphone users from using apps and services such as Google Play, Gmail and YouTube. However, Google has claimed it will continue support for existing Huawei phones.
Bou Ta, a Cambodian Mekong University student and a long-time user of Huawei smartphones, told The Post on Tuesday that she feared her device would soon be no longer be usable.
Ta, 22, said some of Google’s services were vital in her daily life and that she would have no choice but to sell her Huawei smartphone if she could no longer use them.
However, she said if Huawei’s proposed “Plan B” operating system came to pass and was able to run Google services, she would continue using her phone.
“I can only wait and see how Huawei’s Plan B turns out. It depends on the particular apps we can use – such as Gmail. If they cannot be used, there is nothing else to do – we will have to sell our old phones and buy new ones,” she said.
However, San Im, 33, a mobile phone repairman in the capital’s Tuol Svay Prey commune, said he was not worried.
“I will still receive calls and make them so it’s not a problem. As long as the phone does not turn off or can no longer be opened, it won’t be a problem. I’m not upset. It’s just that versions [of some programs] will not be able to be updated.”
Heng Uong, the owner of a large Huawei shop in front of Olympic Market, told The Post that he would stop selling the brand’s phones should consumers stop using its products.
“It would cost me nothing personally as I’m only a small vendor. The firm is the one that will suffer losses,” Uong said.
Ching Long, another phone shop owner, said Huawei devices did not seem to be very popular in Cambodia and so there would be nothing to worry about.
“If Android is no longer usable and people no longer use Huawei smartphones, then we will stop selling them. If and when Google cuts ties with more phone [manufacturers] such as Samsung, Oppo or Vivo then I will worry. But if it is only Huawei, it is nothing because their mobile phones do not sell well,” Long said.
Huawei on Tuesday issued a press release on social media, saying the firm had contributed to developing and stimulating the growth of the Android operating system around the world.
“As a key partner in the world of Android, we have worked closely on an open-source platform to develop an ecosystem that benefits the users and industry."
“Huawei continues providing safe apps and updates to clients who use Huawei and HONOR smartphones and tablets. We will continue running a safe and sustainable software ecosystem to provide all users with the best experience globally,” Huawei said.
Emerging Markets Consulting senior adviser Ngeth Chou said the ban had yet to take effect, so Cambodia had not seen significant negative side-effects. But if issues continued to arise, it would affect those who rely on cheaper smartphones. The Kingdom’s wealthy do not purchase such devices, he said.
“It is not a great deal for the technologies spat between the US and China, but it is an example that will see the discontinuation of orders going into the US from Chinese firms – their main buyers – as they are either prohibited or culled due to the further imposed tariffs. It has affected Cambodia because most of our investors are Chinese firms,” he said.
Sok Piseth, the executive director of G Gear, a partner company with LG Electronics in Cambodia, said Cambodians last year spent $282 million on mobile phones, according to a GfK report.
There were 6.8 million Cambodian Facebook accounts as of January last year, said a report by the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications.