It has finally happened. Google has escalated US’ suspicion around Huawei tech’s security into all out war, cutting the company’s phones, including the Huawei P30 and Huawei P30 Pro, off from Android updates and support for the Google Play Store and Services.
This is a huge problem for Huawei that will completely derail its aspirations to become the world’s top-selling smartphone maker. It’ll also undoubtedly cause waves in the mobile phone market as a whole as other phone makers deal with the fallout of Google all but killing a key player overnight – make no mistake this was a Game of Thrones level assassination. But for me there’ll be one key victor to emerge from the chaos: Apple and the fabled iPhone 11.
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There are a few key reasons for this.
First, because the move has cut two of the iPhone 11’s biggest competitors off at the knees. The Huawei P30 and Pro are two excellent smartphones. We went so far as to list the Huawei P30 Pro as THE best camera phone on the market, and we weren’t alone in our belief.
After the two phones launched analyst houses around the globe listed the P30-family as one of the biggest threats to Apple and Samsung’s diminishing control of the smartphone market. With them gone there’s a lack of any real competition for the next iPhones in the top end of the market outside of the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10 Plus which, while awesome, lack any real wow factor.
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Second, because it’s pretty much the only big US phone maker left. I know Motorola, which has a head office in Chicago, is technically a US phone maker, but the fact it’s owned by Chinese powerhouse Lenovo means it will likely be caught in the fallout of the US and China’s ongoing economic tit-for-tat battle.
The US Government cannot afford to lose Apple’s economic heft and will never target it the way Huawei has been. On top of that, even if China decides to respond, Apple doesn’t rely on the Chinese phone market. If you look at any global smartphone sales report, like Kantar’s dynamic tracker, Apple’s bread and butter is the western market. At the time of publishing it only accounted for around 20% of the Chinese phone market. It’s closer to 50% in the US, by comparison. Of those iPhones, most reportedly aren’t the latest models as Chinese buyers tend to opt for cheaper Android handsets.
Third, because Apple has its own ecosystem. Unlike Android phone makers, Apple owns and manages its entire infrastructure and ecosystem. This means it couldn’t be hit the way Huawei has, even if Chinese companies tried to retaliate.
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That’s not to say everything’s perfect, a trade war between the US and China will undoubtedly impact every company and consumer. In the worst case scenario Apple would have to move manufacturing away from China, but given the horror stories we’ve heard about the conditions in places like Foxconn, this would probably be a good move anyway and it’s not like Apple doesn’t have the cash to take the hit.
For me the combination of factors could give Apple’s next iPhone 11 a key edge on their Android rivals later this year. This is because, while most Android phone makers will be fighting to fill the void left by Huawei’s 2019 flagships or planning how to mitigate a similar ban, Apple will be able to largely continue operating as if everything’s business as usual.