Export ban would create a competitor to US operating systems, argues Google.
The Trump administration would probably describe its Huawei export ban as a move that improves national security by keeping China’s pet telecom company out of the US market. According to a report from The Financial Times, Google’s recent discussions with the US government actually argue that the Huawei ban is bad for national security. Google is reportedly asking for an exemption from the export ban.
The argument, reportedly, is that Huawei is currently dependent on Google for its Android smartphone software, and that dependence is a good thing for the US. The Financial Times quotes “one person with knowledge of the conversations” as saying, “Google has been arguing that by stopping it from dealing with Huawei, the US risks creating two kinds of Android operating system: the genuine version and a hybrid one. The hybrid one is likely to have more bugs in it than the Google one, and so could put Huawei phones more at risk of being hacked, not least by China.”
Today, non-Google Play versions of Android exist in China, but it’s rare that any of them are significantly different from a Google version of Android beyond the pre-loaded app selection. Chinese manufacturers are still global smartphone distributors, so they all build Google-approved Android OSes for the non-Chinese market. What usually happens is that a single OS goes through the Google testing process, then it gets split into two versions. Internationally, it gets the Google Apps; in China, it gets a China-centric app selection.