It might be the third largest smartphone manufacturer in the world, but 2018 isn't turning out to be Huawei’s year for breaking into the US market. After partnership talks with AT&T and Verizon collapsed several weeks ago, Best Buy has now cut relations with the Chinese phone giant.
According to a CNET report citing people familiar with the matter, the largest electronics retailer in the US is no longer ordering new products from Huawei and will stop selling its products over the next few weeks—a move that will further hinder its US expansion ambitions.
It's unclear whether the move was more to do with politics than profit. “We don’t comment on specific contracts with vendors, and we make decisions to change what we sell for a variety of reasons,” said a Best Buy spokesperson.
A Huawei representative said: “as a policy, we do not discuss the details of our partner relationships.”
Best Buy was one of the few places in the US you could buy an unlocked Huawei phone. Carrier deals with AT&T and Verizon would have helped sales of its excellent Mate 10 Pro handset in the states, but both firms pulled out at the last minute due to suspected political pressure.
February brought more bad news for the firm. First, it was revealed that Huawei had asked people to write fake Mate 10 Pro reviews on Best Buy’s page for a chance to become beta testers. Things got worse a week later when US intelligence chiefs warned Americans not to use Huawei or ZTE devices. Six agencies, including the CIA, FBI, and NSA said using a telecoms device from one of the companies could put you at risk of having personal data accessed or stolen—a result of their close ties with the Chinese government. The warning echoed those found in a similar US House Intelligence Committee report from 2012.
US residents who want to buy a Huawei phone can still purchase them from online retailers such as Amazon, B&H, and Newegg.