Report: Google Partnered with Huawei on Smart Speaker Before U.S. Ban

Google china Office
Getty/ Liu Jin

According to a recent report, Chinese tech manufacturer Huawei and Silicon Valley giant Google were working together on a new home smart device before the government placed restrictions on doing business with Huawei.

A report from The Information.com alleges that before the U.S. government restricted Huawei’s access to U.S. tech firms, the company was working alongside Google to develop a Huawei-branded smart speaker. The project was suspended in May and appears to show that the firms had a closer working relationship than previously thought, likely forged due to Google’s eagerness to break into the Chinese tech market.

The Information writes:

Before the U.S. president’s action, which was in response to national security concerns, Huawei’s plan was to unveil the new speaker at the IFA tech trade show in Berlin this September, the people said. The speaker, powered by Google Assistant, was aimed at markets outside China, and Huawei was hoping to sell it online in the U.S.

“We worked on this project with Google for a year and made a lot of progress. Then everything suddenly stopped,” said a Huawei employee who declined to be named.

 

Discussions relating to these projects were reportedly ended after U.S. sanctions came into effect and since May, Huawei’s interactions with Google have been minimal with only a few meetings or calls taking place. Although there are discussions around lifting restrictions on Huawei, the Chinese tech firm has reportedly already begun seeking out other partners outside of the U.S.

But even if Google and other U.S. companies can work with Huawei again, the business relationships may not go back to what they used to be, a Huawei manager said. Since May, the Chinese company has stepped up its efforts to find long-term alternatives to U.S. suppliers by deepening its ties with Chinese and other non-U.S. suppliers and accelerating the development of its own homegrown chips, software and other technologies.

 

Executives at both companies have had long-time relationships, with Huawei Executive Director Richard Yu and Google’s Android chief Hiroshi Lockheimer meeting regularly to discuss business.

Over the past several years, Huawei Executive Director Richard Yu, who heads the company’s consumer electronics division, and Google’s Android chief Hiroshi Lockheimer have met regularly to discuss their work together. For example, the two executives had a meeting in February at MWC Barcelona, the world’s biggest annual telecom trade show, according to people familiar with the matter.

Mr. Yu’s consumer electronics division last year became Huawei’s largest source of revenue, accounting for nearly half of the company’s total revenue of $107 billion.

 

Read more at TheInformation.com here.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or email him at lnolan@breitbart.com

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