Probably one of the most controversial tech companies in the world right now, Huawei, the Chinese-based smartphone manufacturing giant, is yet again in the middle of another faux pas as reports poured regarding the deliberate decision of the company to display ad on the lock screen of phones which uses the auto-generated wallpaper feature.
Specifically, Huawei phones started to show ads for the popular booking website, Booking.com, superimposed in landscape images for the built-in wallpapers of specific Huawei devices. The affected models include the P30 Pro, P20, P20 Lite, Honor 10, and P20 Pro.
Reports from social media users have revealed that the Booking.com ad started to appear in their preinstalled background wallpapers. Many users took to Twitter to ask Huawei why are there ads on their lock screens with screenshots accompanied in it.
“@Huawei_Europe Why is there advertisement on my lock screen?! Have I signed up to this in some small print T&C somewhere?” one wrote on Twitter.
The ads don’t seem to be limited to a particular region or country — they appear on devices in the UK, Netherlands, Ireland, South Africa, Norway, and Germany, at the very least.
While it is relatively easier to remedy even in the user level as the problem is not intrusive, one only needs to refrain from using the preinstalled landscape background images on their phones to prevent the unwanted ad from showing on their lock screens.
A series of bad press for Huawei
This new blunder adds to the list of the recent bad press the company has attracted, especially after Washington’s policy that forced different US suppliers from cutting business with Huawei. An executive order coming from the Trump administration has required US companies from engaging any transaction with the Chinese company, that the US government has repeatedly accused of being used by the Chinese communist government for espionage and economic sabotage.
The first of the long list of companies to impose the ban against Huawei is Google, as the company revoked Huawei’s license to use Android, the operating system currently employed in all Huawei and Honor devices. Chip maker ARM also cut off ties with the Chinese tech giant, which, just like the Google/Android ban, impacts the operations of the company profoundly.
As explained by Android Authority, “ARM is the lifeblood of the smartphone market, as it’s responsible for the inner workings of the vast majority of smartphones. Literally, everyone in the smartphone industry licenses the company’s architecture and instruction sets […] Huawei has seemingly lost the very technology it requires to make a modern smartphone.”
Amidst the ban, Huawei said that it is prepared for situations like this. Following the ban, the China-based company released its very own operating system, Hongmeng. A source has confirmed that Huawei is set to officially launch Hongmeng, as the company has been working on it since 2012. The company has been testing the new OS on selected devices under closer door and closed environment. The source also said that the testing was accelerated for the new operating system to be ready for situations just like this.
Nonetheless, it is still unclear whether Hongmeng will be the official name of the OS from Huawei. Experts note that even if Huawei can successfully launch its operating system, the company will still be faced with the challenge of establishing an app ecosystem. It would take Huawei a lot of time to build apps that are compatible with the new operating system.
Huawei accounted for 19% of the worldwide smartphone market and became the second largest smartphone manufacturer, overtaking Apple, in Q1 2019.
Huawei’s predicament drags tech stocks down
As the US-China trade wars continue and the prevalence of bad press against Huawei, the overall tech market has been affected as the volatile US tech market has seen a series of downfall dragged by the Huawei predicament down. Huawei is dragging the entire tech industry with it as market uncertainty brought upon by the apparent tech trade wars. As Huawei’s future remains at the limbo, it brings with it the rest of the tech world.
“If this remains enforced, it’s going to create some opportunity, but companies are working with their compliance departments to get out of the way of this Huawei situation,” said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial. That’s difficult because “Huawei has its tentacles in so many parts of the technology sector. That’s why this is not a one-day event.”