The escalating U.S.-China commerce struggle that’s seen Chinese tech big Huawei slapped on a U.S. commerce blacklist is inflicting ripples of shock throughout Europe too, as restrictions imposed on U.S. corporations hit regional suppliers involved they may face U.S. restrictions in the event that they don’t ditch Huawei.
Reuters experiences shares fell sharply in the present day in three European chipmakers — Infineon Technologies, AMS and STMicroelectronics — after experiences instructed some already had, or had been about to, halt shipments to Huawei following the manager order barring U.S. companies from buying and selling with the Chinese tech big.
The interconnectedness of high-tech provide chains coupled with U.S. dominance of the sector and Huawei’s robust regional place as a provider of mobile, IT and community equipment in Europe all of a sudden makes political threat a fast-accelerating menace for EU know-how corporations, massive and small.
On the small aspect is French startup Qwant, which competes with Google by providing a pro-privacy search engine. In current months it has been hoping to leverage a European antitrust resolution towards Google  Android final yr to get smartphones to market in Europe that preload its search engine, not Google’s.
Huawei was its meant first main associate for such gadgets. Though, previous to current commerce struggle developments, it was already dealing with difficulties associated to cost incentives Google included in reworked EU Android licensing phrases.
Still, the U.S.-China commerce struggle threatens to throw a much more existential spanner in European Commission efforts to reset the aggressive planning subject for smartphone companies — actually if Google’s response to Huawei’s blacklisting is to torch its provide of virtually all Android-related companies, per Reuters.
A key goal of the EU antitrust resolution was meant to assist the unbundling of common Google companies from Android in order that system makers can attempt promoting combos that aren’t totally Google-flavored — whereas nonetheless having the ability to supply sufficient “Google” to excite shoppers (corresponding to preloading the Play Store however with a distinct search and browser bundle as an alternative of the standard Google + Chrome combo).
Yet if Google intends to restrict Huawei’s entry to such key companies, there’s little probability of that.
(In a press release responding to the Reuters report Google instructed it’s nonetheless deciding learn how to proceed, with a spokesperson writing: “We are complying with the order and reviewing the implications. For users of our services, Google Play and the security protections from Google Play Protect will continue to function on existing Huawei devices.”)
Going on Google’s preliminary response, Qwant co-founder and CEO Eric Léandri advised us he thinks Google has overreacted — at the same time as he dubbed the U.S.-China commerce struggle “world war III — economical war but it’s a world war for sure.”
“I really need to see exactly what President Trump has said about Huawei and how to work with them. Because I think maybe Google has overreacted. Because I haven’t [interpreted it] that way so I’m very surprised,” he advised TechSwitch.
“If Huawei can be [blacklisted] what about the others?,” he added. “Because I’d say 60% of the mobile phone gross sales in Europe in the present day are coming from China. Huawei or ZTE, OnePlus and the others — they’re all below the identical type of threat.
“Even some of our European brands who are very small like Nokia… all of them are made in China, usually with partnership with these big cell phone manufacturers. So that means several things but one thing that I’m sure is we should not rely on one OS. It would be difficult to explain how the Play Store is not as important as the search in Android.”
Léandri additionally questioned whether or not Google’s response to the blacklisting will embrace instructing Huawei to not even use its search engine — a transfer that would impression its share of the smartphone search market.
“At the end of the day there is just one thing I can say because I’m just a search engine and a European one — I haven’t seen Google asking to not be by default in Huawei as search engine. If they can be in the Huawei by default as a search engine so I presume that everyone else can be there.”
Léandri mentioned Qwant will likely be watching to see what Huawei’s subsequent steps will likely be — corresponding to whether or not it is going to determine to attempt providing gadgets with its personal retailer baked in in Europe.
And certainly how China will react.
“We have to understand the result politically, globally, the European consequences. The European attitude. It’s not only American and China — the rest of the world exists,” he mentioned.
“I’ve plan b, plan c, plan d, plan f. To be clear we’re a startup — so we are able to have tonnes of plans, The solely factor is true now’s it’s too monumental.
“I know that they are the two giants in the tech field… but the rest of the world have some words today and let’s see how the European Commission will react, my government will react and some of us will react because it’s not only a small commercial problem right now. It’s a real political power demonstration and it’s global so I will not be more — I am nobody in all this. I do my job and I do my job well and I will use the maximum opportunity that I can find on the market.”
We’ve reached out to the Commission to ask the way it intends to answer escalating dangers for European tech companies as Trump’s commerce struggle steps up.
Also in the present day, Reuters experiences that the German Economy Minister is analyzing the impression of U.S. sanctions towards Huawei on native corporations.
But whereas a startup like Qwant waits to see what the subsequent few months will carry — and the way the panorama of the smartphone market would possibly radically reconfigure within the face of sharply spiking political threat, a distinct European startup is hoping to catch some uplift: Finland-based Jolla steers improvement of a made-in-Europe Android different, referred to as Sailfish OS.
It’s a really tiny participant in a Google-dominated smartphone world. Yet may very well be positioned to make positive aspects amid U.S. and Chinese tech clashes — which in flip threat making main platform items really feel a complete lot much less secure.
A made-in-Europe non-Google-led OS would possibly achieve extra floor amongst threat averse governments and enterprises — as a wise hedge towards Trump-fueled world uncertainty.
“Sailfish OS, as a non-American, open-source based, secure mobile OS platform, is naturally an interesting option for different players — currently the interest is stronger among corporate and governmental customers and partners, as our product offering is clearly focused on this segment,” says Jolla co-founder and CEO Sami Pienimäki .
“Overall, there definitely has been increased interest towards Sailfish OS as a mobile OS platform in different parts of the world, partly triggered by the on-going political activity in many locations. We have also had clearly more discussions with e.g. Chinese device manufacturers, and Jolla has also recently started new corporate and governmental customer projects in Europe.”

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