Huawei just can’t catch a break in the US market. After a series of road bumps – which we’ll elaborate on further below – the Chinese colossus is now off Best Buy’s shelves. The latter is one of the top American retail stores with an equally strong online presence, so we can only imagine the tremendous impact that this plot twist is going to have to the third largest smartphone maker in the world.
A spokesperson of Best Buy said: “"We don't comment on specific contracts with vendors, and we make decisions to change what we sell for a variety of reasons”.
Huawei’s corresponding spokesperson provided a similar response, noting: “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.
Truth be told, a first look on the subject and one might think that the news came out of the blue. But the quickest investigation on the internet, using Huawei’s name, is enough to connect the dots. There have been two incidents in the recent past that made a big splash and both ended up stripping Huawei from its emerging power in the US market.
AT&T carrier partnership
Back in CES 2018, Huawei introduced its latest flagship, the Mate 10 Pro. That was a handset that the company introduced as the first AI smartphone, promising that it will give a new meaning to our glass-and-metal slabs.
In order to make that happen in the American market, the company was a breath away from securing a US carrier, AT&T, to launch its product; and then AT&T reportedly pulled out at the last minute. The reasons behind that last-minute pull out never became publicly known; at least not officially. It is worth noting however, that a month before that incident, a group of lawmakers sent a letter to the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) expressing their doubts concerning a potential deal between Huawei and an undisclosed US carrier company. According to the deal, the latter was to sell the former’s product in the United States.
U.S Intelligence agencies report espionage
About a month ago, the top U.S Intelligence agencies (FBI, CIA, NSA) went public about their concerns on Chinese smartphone branded under Huawei and ZTE,
FBI Director Christopher Wray stated: “We're deeply concerned about the risks of allowing any company or entity that is beholden to foreign governments (...) to gain positions of power inside our telecommunications networks. It provides the capacity to maliciously modify or steal information. And it provides the capacity to conduct undetected espionage. “
To that, Huawei responded through its spokesperson saying: “Huawei is aware of a range of U.S. government activities seemingly aimed at inhibiting Huawei's business in the U.S. market. Huawei is trusted by governments and customers in 170 countries worldwide and poses no greater cybersecurity risk than any ICT vendor.”
Being accused by national intelligence agencies of spying is definitely something that can hurt the company’s reputation. However, provided its scale and under specific circumstances, Huawei was able to come back with a solid response that put matters to the consumers’ hands to decide whether they trust the world’s third largest smartphone maker or not.
Not being able to sell their latest and most powerful product through a carrier’s available channels is also a tough hit. But again, Huawei managed to overcome that obstacle by using third party retailers thus bypassing carriers. And Best Buy was one of the main third-party stores.
The above two, combined with the latest hit that came from Best Buy cancelling its collaboration with the Mate 10 Pro maker, is what will most likely put Huawei out of the top-tier American smartphone market, once and for all.
At this point, it is worth noting that even though each incident strikes as independent from the other two, it’s hard to deny that all of them could occur for the same reasons. Now, whether that is national security, marketing strategies or something else is up to each one of us to decide.
If you have any other explanation in mind however, that you find more plausible let us know in the comments!