Poor Huawei is getting screwed over left and right in the U.S.
First, AT&T reportedly pulled out of a carrier partnership to sell the Chinese tech giant’s flagship Mate 10 Pro Android phone. Then, the top U.S. intelligence agencies (CIA, FBI, and NSA) publicly dragged the company’s phones for potentially being used as tools of espionage for the Chinese government, even though there’s so far no evidence that has happened.
And now, Best Buy, Huawei’s largest U.S. retail partner, will reportedly stop selling the company’s devices in the coming weeks.
According to CNET, Best Buy has stopped ordering new phones from the company and will stop selling them altogether.
It’s unclear what the motivations behind the decision are and why Best Buy would suddenly decide to drop Huawei’s devices.
Either interest in Huawei devices is way below expectations or there’s pressure from the U.S. government to stop carrying them.
A Best Buy spokesperson told Mashable that it “doesn’t comment on specific contracts with vendors, and we make decisions to change what we sell for a variety of reasons.”
A Huawei spokesperson provided a similar response when reached for comment: “Huawei values the relationship it has with Best Buy and all our other retail partners. As a policy, we do not discuss the details of our partner relationships.”
Without Best Buy, Huawei’s physical U.S. retail presence is diminished.
It’s a big blow to fail to secure any U.S. carriers — Richard Yu, Huawei’s CEO of its consumer electronics group, reminded everyone at CES that over 90 percent of phones are sold through carriers in the U.S. — and losing Best Buy only makes it more difficult for the company to get its devices in front of consumers.
Without Best Buy, Huawei’s physical U.S. retail presence is greatly diminished to essentially the few Microsoft stores that carry its phones (a quick search on the online store turns up no results for Huawei phones, only laptops and tablets) and B&H, which only has one retail store located in New York City.
Huawei phones are still available on Amazon and New Egg, but who knows for how long. We’re speculating here, but if Best Buy’s decision to stop selling Huawei phones was the result of pressure from the the U.S. government, it wouldn’t be surprising if other retailers follow suit. And losing Amazon would basically be game over for Huawei.
With Best Buy jumping ship, the ball is now seriously in Huawei’s court. We’ve already said it before, but if the company wants to gain any foothold in the U.S. mobile market, it needs to figure out a way to increase transparency and convince Americans that its devices aren’t spyware.