Although matters have been quieter on that front, Huawei remains barred from accessing many US products critical to its smartphone business. It hasn’t stopped trying to look for key apps and services to replace its dependence on Google’s popular software. The latest piece to be replaced is Google Maps which has now become the go-to service for location and navigation and the Chinese OEM has just closed a deal with Dutch mapping company TomTom exactly for that purpose.
Of all the parts of Android that Huawei is banned from using, Maps is perhaps one of the easiest to replace, mostly because there is no shortage of mapping and navigation companies that offer similar functionality, some of them located outside the US’ direct control. That said, Google Maps has the advantage of a wealth of data, deep integration with Android, and, of course, partnerships with businesses.
Fortunately for Huawei, TomTom isn’t just a new player in that field, having specialized in navigation services and devices for more than two decades now. This partnership is almost providential just as TomTom decided to shift its focus away from hardware and into licensing software and selling services. And even better, it isn’t affected by the US Entity List ban on Huawei.
Either company has yet to formally announce the deal and it isn’t yet certain how the US government will take the news. While it has little control over what companies outside the country do, it has tried to exert its influence with other governments, urging them to give Huawei similar treatment.
Huawei has been scrambling to find pieces to replace Google’s Play apps and services which include not just Search, Gmail, or Chrome but also key components like Play Protect security and developer consoles and dashboards. Huawei has been developing its own Huawei Mobile Services for that purpose but has already missed the claim it made for a late 2019 launch. It is possible that Huawei will make the big announcement with the Huawei P40’s launch around March.