Exclusive: Facebook suspends app preinstallations on Huawei phones

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Facebook Inc no longer allows pre-installation of its applications on Huawei phones, the latest battle against the Chinese tech giant, as it struggles to keep its business away from a US ban on its purchases of US parts and software.

FILE PHOTO: Huawei P30 handset appears in a phone shop at a mall in Bangkok, Thailand May 22, 2019. REUTERS / Soe Zeya Tun / File Photo

Customers who already have Huawei phones will still be able to use their apps and receive updates, Facebook told Reuters. But new Huawei phones will no longer be able to have Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram apps pre-installed.

Smartphone providers often specify business deals to pre-install popular applications like Facebook. Apps, including Twitter and, also come pre-installed on Huawei phones in many markets. Twitter Inc refused to comment and Booking Holdings did not respond to a request.

The move of Facebook dampens the sales prospects of Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, whose smartphone business became its biggest revenue generator last year, driven by strong growth in Europe and Asia.

Huawei refused to comment.

Alfabet Incs Google said earlier that it would no longer provide Android software to Huawei phones after a 90-day extinction by the US government expires in August. But Google's Playstore and all Google apps will still be available for current models of Huawei phones, including those not yet delivered or even built.

However, the Facebook ban applies to any Huawei phone that has not yet left the factory, according to a person familiar with the case. Facebook refused to comment when the suspension took place.

In May, Washington banned US companies from supplying technology to Huawei, part of a long-standing campaign against the company. The United States claims that Huawei is too close to the Chinese government, and that its telecom network equipment and other products may be a channel of espionage, which Huawei refuses.

Buyers of current Huawei phone models who have not pre-installed Facebook can still download it from Google Playstore. Future versions of Huawei phones, however, do not have access to Google Playstore and its apps, unless the US government changes the course.

Huawei has said it was prepared for the American act and promised to bypass any disturbances. But some customers in stores in Europe and Asia have told Reuters they are reluctant to buy Huawei phones in the face of uncertainty, and analysts expect a dramatic decline in Huawei smartphone sales.

Reporting by Katie Paul in San Francisco; Additional reporting by Tony Munroe in Beijing and Sijia Jiang in Hong Kong; Editing by Stephen Coates

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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