Huawei is in talks with Aptoide to potentially replace the Google Play Store, reportedly asked developers to publish apps on AppGallery
Caught in the middle of the cold trade war between the U.S. and China, Huawei has found itself bleeding heavily. With a recent executive order by the U.S. government, Huawei will no longer be a licensed Android partner. This means that the company will have to rely on AOSP builds for future devices and no longer have access to the pre-release builds of the commercial version of Google’s operating system. Upcoming Huawei devices won’t have access to Google Play Services or other Google apps and the existing ones may only be supported so long as Huawei does not update them. Even though the U.S. Commerce Department has eased these restrictions on Huawei temporarily, it may not have enough time to enjoy this respite. Since its plans to replace Android with own operating system may take longer than expected, Huawei is in planning to bolster its own app store, known as the AppGallery. In the meantime, the Chinese giant is consulting third-party marketplace Aptoide to provide users an alternative to the Google Play Store.
As per Portuguese publication Dinheiro Vivo, Aptoide is already negotiating with Huawei to seize the opportunity. Aptoide hosts more than 900,000 apps with almost 200 million users. Alongside repositories like APK Mirror, Aptoide is one of the most popular sources to download Android apps, even when it may not be officially supported via Google Play Store.
At the same time, Huawei has been trying to pursue developers to publish their apps directly on the company’s own AppGallery. This will allow it to bypass the restrictions set up by the U.S. government’s ban, although Google apps like YouTube, Google Maps, and a host of other services will still be inaccessible for users. The company claims that by the end of 2018, the AppGallery had been catering 50 million users, Bloomberg reported.
In Europe, where Huawei enjoys a major share of the smartphone user base, it is trying to incentivize telecom operators to pre-install the AppGallery. This move could be favorable to the Chinese company since Google is facing three antitrust charges, including one related to Android. In this case, the European Union levied a fine of 4.3 billion euros (~$4.8 billion) for forcing users to use its own products including Google Search and maintain dominance over online search results, thereby overshadowing competitor platforms like Bing or DuckDuckGo.
It is equally important to note that without support for Google’s app, the step may not be very appetizing for users and Huawei. We’re eager to see how long the company can face this resistance. Meanwhile, there’s also a possibility that the U.S. Department of Commerce may ease the prohibition further, and even reach a mutual conciliation eventually – just like in the case of another Chinese company, ZTE.
As for the Aptoide store, there are two possibilities with how Huawei could use its popularity. It might either pre-install the store on Huawei smartphones or integrate its functionality within the Huawei’s AppGallery. However, the store is often used to download paid apps for free, and this might worry developers and Google. How Huawei deals with it is something we’ll learn in the longer run.
Until then, we’ll keep you informed about the implications of the prohibition and also keep an eye at the tides of change.