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Huawei teams up with TomTom for Google Maps alternative

With American companies off limits, Huawei has turned to Europe

As the executive order banning US firms trading with their Chinese counterparts enters its ninth month, it seems that Huawei – arguably the most impacted company – is looking for new partners to make up for the losses. 
The main loss is working with Google, and while Huawei can continue to use a form of Android – the open-source version available to anybody – it means early access to new versions and quick security patches are out of the question. Worse, although there’s nothing stopping the firm using open-source Android, it can’t use Google apps which are pretty much essential in the west: Gmail, Chrome, YouTube, the Play Store and of course Google Maps.

Well, it looks like Huawei has found an alternative to the latter of these, with Reuters reporting that the company has partnered with TomTom for mapping data. TomTom – the firm that was synonymous with SatNav systems in the early 2000s – is Dutch, so unaffected by the whims of presidential executive orders.
TomTom spokesperson Temco Meerstra told Reuters that the deal had actually been completed a while ago, but was not subject to a public announcement. The site says that the arrangement allows Huawei to use TomTom’s maps, traffic information and navigation software to develop apps for its (and presumably Honor-branded) smartphones.
TomTom has backed off from making hardware itself after a long time making SatNavs and a relatively short time making running watches. Last year it sold its telematics division to Bridgestone with the intention of focusing on the software side of digital mapmaking.
So this arrangement would appear to suit both parties nicely. While it might not make Huawei phones more appealing in the west in the short term – we do like our Google apps, after all – at the very least, this should make it easier for the company to maintain its dominance in China. And with a population of 1.3 billion, that’s not an insignificant development.

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