- During the development of one its Nexus phones back in 2015, Google hosted nearly 100 Huawei engineers at its Mountain View, California headquarters and gave the team from China its own dedicated lab, according to a report by The Information on Monday.
- While sales for the Nexus 6b smartphone failed to meet internal goals, Huawei sources said that what they learned from working with Google helped the Chinese firm produce better phones in the future.
- As a part of the same report, The Information also said that Google was working with the Chinese manufacturing giant to license its Google Assistant technology for a Huawei-branded smart speaker.
- This report indicates deeper ties between Huawei and Google than we originally knew about — even as Google comes under scrutiny for any potential ties to China.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Google’s ties to Huawei— the Chinese tech giant considered a threat to US security by the Trump administration — may run deeper than previously known, according to a report by The Information on Monday.
During the development of one its Nexus phones back in 2015, Google reportedly hosted nearly 100 Huawei engineers at its famed Googleplex headquarters in Silicon Valley, giving the visitors from China their own lab.
According to the report, Google engineers worked side-by-side with the Huawei team to develop the display and camera for the Nexus 6b phone, among other features. Employees from the two companies became so close, the report said, that they would grab dinner and drinks together.
One Huawei engineer who worked on the project out of the Googleplex told the Information that Huawei engineers "asked a lot of questions" and "learned a lot" from their Google counterparts. And while sales for the Nexus 6b failed to meet internal goals, Huawei sources said that what they learned from working with Google helped the Chinese firm produce better phones in the future.
On Monday, as a part of the same report, The Information also said that Google was working with the Chinese manufacturing giant to license its Google Assistant technology for a Huawei-branded smart speaker. Many other third-party hardware makers — including Sony, Lenovo, and Sonos — offer Google Assistant-powered speakers today. On the face of it, this reported Huawei speaker would have been a similar arrangement.
That licensing deal fell through in May when President Trump blacklisted Huawei, effectively halting sales between the tech giant and US firms, the report said.
Neither Google nor Huawei immediately responded to Business Insider’s request for comment.
Google’s relationship with China under the microscope
At the time, the most urgent question facing Huawei was what the world’s largest smartphone manufacturer would do in terms of its device’s operating systems, which had been powered by Google’s Android OS. With Trump’s trade ban in place, it seemed, Huawei would need to develop its own, in-house OS.
Meanwhile, business leaders around the world have asked the Trump administration to reconsider the Huawei ban. Last week, Trump met with the leaders of top US tech companies — including Google — during which the president reportedly agreed to "timely" decisions as to whether trade with Huawei could resume.
Last year, Google was widely criticized for Project Dragonfly, its nascent plans for building a censored search engine for China a project Google recently confirmed that it had terminated.
However, more recently, President Trump revived concerns, tweeting that Google’s relationship with the Chinese government "may or may not" pose national security threats. Google declined to comment on Trump’s tweet at the time.
Read the full report by The Information here.
- THE TECH COLD WAR: Everything that’s happened in the new China-US tech conflict involving Google, Huawei, Apple, and Trump
- Trump says there ‘may or may not’ be national security concerns regarding Google’s China dealings, 2 days after the White House said there was nothing to worry about
- The 6 biggest bombshells and takeaways from tech’s wild week of earnings, from Amazon to Snapchat