Chinese smartphone brand and telecom gear maker ZTE Corporation is in deeper troubles at the moment as the United States Commerce Department on Monday banned US firms from selling hardware parts and software to ZTE for seven years. This essentially means that ZTE can’t use Qualcomm chipsets on its smartphones and now, another major issue is looming around the company, which could probably make ZTE stop manufacturing smartphones. A report of Reuters claims that ZTE may not be able to use Google’s Android operating system on its smartphones, a source familiar with the topic said. That said, the talks between ZTE and Alphabet Inc are still going on, and both companies declined to comment on the matter when approached.
After imposing the ban for seven years on Monday, the US telecom regulator on Tuesday has proposed new rules which will bar government programs from buying components from companies that pose a security threat to the nation. This move will ultimately hurt both ZTE and Huawei, which is already struggling to enter the US market.
“The moves threaten to further complicate relations between the United States and China. The two countries have already proposed tens of billions of dollars in tariffs in recent weeks, fanning worries of a full-blown trade war that could hurt global supply chains as well as business investment plans,” added the Reuters report.
While the matter is yet to decided by Google and ZTE, we believe that ZTE can still use Android on its smartphones because of the open source nature. Android, as most of us are aware of is an open source platform, which cannot be restricted by government or any other entity likewise. ZTE can take the open source code and build a forked version of its own like other brands such as Amazon (Fire OS), but Alphabet can restrict ZTE from using Google’s licensed source of applications including the Google Play Services and Google Play Store.
Google licenses all of its services into a single package dubbed as Google Mobile Services package. Except for China, in every other country, a smartphone without Google services is treated as a useless one. In China, manufacturers can not bundle Google services with the smartphones, but sideloading the services do work as we have seen very often on the web. Most likely, the decision will be made in the coming days, and it will be interesting to see what ZTE will be up to if Alphabet restricts it from using the Google Mobile Services.