Huawei has confirmed that it is blocking third-party launchers from the Chinese version of EMUI 9.0. The company is rolling out EMUI 9.0 as a part of the Android 9.0 Pie update for its existing devices.
The company is doing this so as to combat questionable behavior from third-party retailers who manually sideload malware and ad-infested launchers in its devices before selling it to customers. This is a widespread practice in China which is ultimately what forced Huawei into taking such a drastic step. The company had also received numerous complaints from its customers who were troubled by these ad-infected launchers installed on their devices. Apart from serving ads, these launchers also stole user data and consumed an abnormally high amount of power which lead to battery drain.
For now, Huawei has only placed this restriction in the Chinese version of Emotion UI. Given the popularity of third-party launchers in the Western market and features like Google Play Protect, it is unlikely that Huawei will impose similar restrictions in the global version of EMUI 9.0.
Huawei could have worked around the problem by whitelisting third-party launchers from popular developers like Nova Launcher, Action Launcher, Lawnchair, and others. This move from the company is definitely going to cause some inconvenience to a certain set of advanced Chinese consumers who prefer third-party launchers due to its support for advanced features like icon packs, custom gestures, app search, custom grid size, and more. At the moment, it is unclear how one could bypass this restriction from Huawei.