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Huawei's US expansion plans may have been screwed over yet again (Update)
Update (03/22) 4:18 p.m. ET: According to a report from Bloomberg, Best Buy will also stop selling all HUAWEI laptops, smartwatches, and HONOR smartphones.
Original article (03/22) 5:12 a.m. ET: Huawei’s US ambitions might have taken yet another huge blow as CNET reports that Best Buy stopped ordering new smartphones from the Chinese device maker.
According to a person familiar with the situation, Best Buy will also stop selling Huawei products over the next few weeks. The person also said that Best Buy made the call to sever the relationship, but did not provide additional information.
In a statement sent to CNET, Best Buy did not confirm or deny the report and said it changes product offerings for a “variety of reasons.” In a separate statement, HUAWEI called Best Buy a valued partner but also did not confirm or deny the report.
In addition to the HONOR 6X, Best Buy currently sells HUAWEI’s Mate 9, Mate 10 Pro, Mate 10 Porsche Design, and Mate SE.
If the report is accurate, US residents will have to turn to Amazon, Jet, B&H, and Newegg to pick up HUAWEI smartphones. B&H is the only one in that list that operates a physical store, though its physical retail presence pales in comparison to Best Buy’s 1,000-plus brick-and-mortar stores.
As Best Buy is the top consumer electronics reseller in the US, losing access to its millions of customers would definitely sting a bit.
In the grand scheme of things, the move would be yet another step back for HUAWEI. Even though it is the third-largest smartphone company in the world, HUAWEI is virtually unknown in the US and sought to change that with the Mate 10 Pro.
Unfortunately for HUAWEI, AT&T and Verizon reportedly dropped plans to sell the company’s smartphones allegedly due to pressure from the US government. That pressure partially stemmed from the House Intelligence Committee’s 2012 report that accused HUAWEI and ZTE of making devices that could pose a security threat.
It also arrived from intelligence chiefs from the FBI, CIA, and NSA, who told the Senate Intelligence Committee in February that they would not recommend HUAWEI and ZTE phones to private citizens.
Recently, HUAWEI CEO Richard Yu reportedly blamed competitors for “playing politics” to kill the deal with AT&T. Yu did not clarify who these “competitors” are, though HUAWEI tried to distance itself from its CEO’s comments.
HUAWEI also stressed that its products are available through carriers in China, Europe, Japan, and emerging markets. At this point, however, the company’s US expansion plans will have to wait.