In 2003, Barbra Streisand filed a lawsuit against photographer Kenneth Adelman. His crime? Capturing the award-winning singer’s Malibu mansion as part of an effort to document coastal erosion in California. The attempt to suppress any images of her estate being available to the public unfortunately had the reverse effect: Adelman’s photo was seen by over 400,000 people in the next month alone when before the suit it had only been downloaded six times – and two of them were by Streisand’s lawyers. In its wake, the Streisand Effect was born.
A similar situation is steadily evolving with the sanctioning of Huawei by the United States government. Donald Trump’s administration imposed a blanket ban forbidding technology giants like Google and Intel from working with the Chinese-based telecommunications company a month ago on claims that they post a cybersecurity risk. What could have been mitigated with closed-wall negotiations instead drew the attention of the world.
Critics were quick to call on the downfall of Huawei, and the loss of Google’s apps like Google Maps, YouTube, and most critically the Play Store didn’t help things either. But when the dust settled, it was pretty clear that Huawei had anticipated this day for a long while (tensions between China and the US have been building for more than a year in an ongoing trade war).
Huawei has already been developing their own operating system named Hongmeng that could roll out to all its devices in months if Google proceeds with the revoking of Android. Their own version of the Play Store, dubbed the AppGallery, is also already pre-loaded on every Huawei device, and it’s only a matter of time that developers publish their apps there too.
Would it take time to be implemented across the board? There’s no doubt of that, seeing as Rome wasn’t built in a day. But in the long term, Huawei’s forced independence could benefit the entire mobile industry as a whole. Right now, we only have Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android as the dominant operating systems. A third contender into this oligopoly could turn the tide, especially considering that Huawei is the second largest smartphone vendor in the world.
With all the talk about a “lack of innovation” in recent times, it could be a way for Huawei to flex their technological know-how to the world. This would force their competition to step up their game and elevate the industry standards on a global scale. After all, all eyes are on them now to make the next move.
In the meantime, Huawei stands by its commitment to consumers as owners of its devices will still receive support, patches and security updates.
“Anyone who has already bought, or is about to buy a Huawei smartphone, can continue to access the world of apps as they have always done,” said the company in a statement issued in the UK. “All devices continue to be covered by our manufacturer’s warranty and will receive full service support accordingly.”
Additionally, local retailers like Challenger, Courts and Sprint Cass are offering a Money Back 2-year Assurance Warranty where customers who purchase Huawei devices between 22 June – 31 August 2019 will be compensated if apps like Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Google’s suite of services stop working within this period.
All this means, despite the current setback, there’s really no stopping the growth of the Chinese tech giant. We think of it as hurdle in a marathon meant to be leapt over, and once that’s done, the race is there to be won.