As Google restricts Huawei’s access to its Android operating system, app users around the world are wondering what’s next. By some estimates, around one in five smartphone users in Colombia use Huawei.
CGTN’s Michelle Begue has more from Bogota.
Colombia has an estimated 6.8 million people asking the same question what will the U.S. restrictions mean for Huawei cellphone users.
Colombia is reportedly Huawei’s third most important market in Latin America. According to the U.K.-based market research company, Euromonitor, of the 12.3 million cellphones sold in Colombia in 2018, 21.8 percent were Huawei.
“The Huawei user is a person looking for a good camera,” Mauricio Vela, a commercial consultant, said. “They want good memory, for a more executive and modern person but whose budget isn’t that big because the apple phones are very beautiful but very expensive.”
Huawei in Colombia reassured users with a statement released on social media. “Huawei will continue to supply security and post-sale service updates to all existing products.”
Samir Stefan, Co-founder of the Colombian tech blog Techcetera, believes the ban will be temporary. But if it isn’t, he said the biggest issue will be providing users an alternative to already established means of communicating through Google-based apps.
“It will not be able to provide them with Gmail, with Google maps,” Stefan said.
“Microsoft will not be able to provide them with Office, with Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp, etc. So, in the end, if people can’t use those applications you will have a very fragmented market in which someone would have to rise and replace WhatsApp, which is right now the main means of communication in Latin America.”
One storeowner selling Huawei already said sales have dropped between 30 to 40 percent. He said he will continue selling Huawei products and doesn’t believe in sounding an alarm.
“People are skeptical, and it is normal, because there is bullying and misinformation in Colombian media,” Mauricio Vela said. “So, people start to look for other options. And that disinformation leaves many without knowing what to do. Should they change their cellphone So, they come here asking for help. But I try to calm their worries, because one way or another, this situation will correct itself.”
Colombia’s overall cellphone market continues to grow according to experts. Studies conducted by market research firm GFK see a 14.4 percent rise in cellphones sold in the first four months of 2019 compared to the same period last year.