ZTE exports ban may mean no Google apps, a death sentence for its smartphones
Android is free and open source and will probably remain free for ZTE to use without Google’s involvement. Reuters’ source is probably referring to the Google apps, which aren’t sold to device makers but are carefully licensed to them in exchange for other concessions. The Google apps packageincludes popular services like Gmail and Google Maps, and it also unlocks the Play Store, Google Play Services, and the entire Android app ecosystem.
For a market-viable Android device, the Play Store is pretty much mandatory in every country other than China. So while ZTE could conceivably source hardware components from non-US sources, being locked out of the Play Store would devastate ZTE’s smartphones worldwide.