Chinese phone giant Huawei launches in Munich on Thursday its latest high-end smartphone, the first to be impacted by US sanctions and could be deprived of popular applications Google.
What in 2019 looks like a phone without the components and services of Silicon Valley, so hegemonic in this market? Will Huawei find a trick to circumvent American sanctions?
The techno-diplomatic soap opera, gladly maintained by the Chinese brand, will end at 12:00 GMT, with the public presentation of the latest models of the Chinese brand, the Mate 30 and Mate 30 Pro.
Huawei, targeted by the United States against a backdrop of a commercial stand-off with Beijing, was blacklisted by Washington in May. US companies are now banned from trading with the Chinese firm, accused by Donald Trump of espionage.
The ban concerns the supply of materials, services and software marketed by American firms, on the front line Google, which no longer has the right to offer certification to the Chinese brand.
The new Huawei Mate should work in an "open" version of Android, the operating system created by Google and that equips most phones of the moment. Until then, the user should not see a significant difference.
- OS war -
But private "Play Store", so the ability to download popular applications like Google Map, Whatsapp or Instagram, the smartphone could be almost unusable. Distributors, especially in France, would hesitate to offer it to their customers, for fear of seeing it return after a few hours, reports the trade press.
Huawei chairman Richard Yu said at the international electronics fair in Berlin in early September that his engineers had found a way "very simple" to access these applications, without the Play Store.
According to the press, Huawei could initially offer a pilot version of its own application store, niche so far under the double dominance of Apple and Google.
In the longer term, if the trade war were to get bogged down, Huawei, which became world number two behind Samsung, plans to develop a technological ecosystem that will ensure total sovereignty.
The Shenzen company presented at the beginning of the month HarmonyOS, its own operating system that could replace Android on its devices but will not equip the Mate 30 yet.
In parallel, Huawei CEO Eric Xu is also pushing for a European alternative to Android and iOS, to reduce reliance on Apple and Google and strengthen its position on the continent to 500 million consumers.
"If Europe had its own ecosystem for smart devices, Huawei would use it ... it would solve the problem of European digital dependence," the leader told the German daily Handelsblatt, saying he was ready to invest in such Sino-European projects.
© 2019 AFP