Hang on to your devices: Tech experts in Malaysia weigh in on Huawei, Google debacle

A man walks by a Huawei logo at a shopping mall in Shanghai, China, Dec. 6, 2018. REUTERS/Aly Song. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

KUALA LUMPUR, May 23, 2019, MalayMail. Malaysian Huawei owners should hold on to their devices despite the recent news that Google has cut off its Android services with the China-based company, said tech experts, reported the MalayMail.

Despite the departure of the Android Operating System (OS) from Huawei amid a growing trade war between the US and China, tech experts believe the company can design and implement their own OS.

“I would not worry too much about Google pulling out of Huawei, because if you look at the size of the company, designing their own operating system is nothing difficult and furthermore I believe they have developed their own operating system,’’ said Cybersecurity company LGMS director Fong Choong Fook.

Fong added that Huawei’s overall experience and expertise could see the company create its own ecosystem for its devices and not be reliant on the Android OS.

However, Fong explained that the challenge now is to convince Huawei’s sizable consumer base to remain with their brand amid claims that it has ties with China’s intelligence community and is conducting data mining on its consumers.

“Now the biggest challenge is how to push these OS to assist users and another challenge is whether existing Huawei users want to transform from current Android OS to the Huawei OS.

“Security is always a debatable topic. Some researchers claim that Huawei phones contain backdoor services that report back to Huawei or China but same goes for Google because we do not know whether they have the same software.

“Basically, it is a matter of trust… whether the consumers have the confidence and in this case, confidence in Huawei,’’ he said.

Huawei, however, has reassured that they will continue to provide security updates and services for its smartphones and tablets.

Fong added that another problem many users are still unaware of is whether other US-based tech services will be accessible through Huawei’s devices.

“Huawei users are concerned about whether WhatsApp, Facebook and a lot more US-based services be affected,’’ he said.

Amin Ashaari, Malaysian tech site SoyaCincau co-founder, feels Malaysian Huawei phone owners should hold on to their purchases.

“First of all, we have to look at it from a geopolitical situation. the US is putting sanctions on China and China is doing the same thing, and Huawei has become like the collateral damage that is stuck in the middle,” Amin told Malay Mail.

Then Amin pointed out that yesterday’s news of a 90-day respite from the prohibition of Huawei purchasing components from US companies could provide time for certain issues between the two superpowers to be resolved.

“It is within the interest of all the parties involved, Huawei, China and the US, for this to be settled amicably. Because if it doesn’t, American companies stand to lose US$11 billion (RM46 billion) in terms of revenue to supply to Huawei,” he said.

The Huawei phone and laptop owner also believes that Google’s reputation among consumers is at stake as well.

“It doesn’t bode well for Google to take sides because it is seen as an open and impartial company. So for them to be okay with simply complying with US (government) orders means that, hey, does this mean that Google is not being impartial in handling our data?” Amin questioned.

“Also, as a capitalist democracy, it’s not right for the American government to get involved in businesses.”

In today’s world, he added, collaborations between diverse entities are important, especially when they delve into the artificial intelligence (AI), 5G and automotive sectors, Google would need the collaborative assistance of businesses like Huawei.

As for the Malaysian social media chatter where some Huawei users say they will use the phones simply as cameras or purchase them when they drop in prices, Amin brushed it aside as online rhetoric and gossip.

He advised Huawei phone users against panicking and selling their devices.

“If you own a Huawei device right now, should you sell it? Should you let it go? No, because you stand to lose because things can get better,” Amin said.

The tech site editor also predicted that Huawei, as the world’s second largest mobile phone manufacturer, will do whatever it takes for the company to continue thriving in the future.

“If you look at the long game, for them to survive they would do whatever it takes right now for that to happen. Does survival mean taking a hit in their mobile and network business until things get better?

“If it comes to that, then Huawei will take that hit so that they will continue to operate. Being in business and having a second chance at being number one in mobile phones manufacturing, networking and also dominate in Industry 4.0 with artificial intelligence and other technology… that is more important than winning the ‘battle’ today,” he added.

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