Huawei has announced that it will launch its latest flagship phones, the Huawei P10 and P10 Plus, in Canada this Spring. Specifically, Rogers, Fido, Bell and Videotron will sell the P10 in stores across Canada, and the P10 Plus will be a Rogers exclusive.
This is big news for the Chinese manufacturer, as it will be the first time the company has sold a flagship phone through tier one carriers in North America. In the past few years, Huawei’s movements in this territory have reportedly been held up because of security worries: specifically, it was alleged that Huawei’s ties to the Chinese government posed a threat to the United States (claims Huawei has refuted).
I recently spoke to Scott Bradley, Vice President of Corporate Affairs for Huawei Canada, to ask about the move.
“There’s never been an issue on the security front in Canada,” Bradley said. “The key barrier, really [is that it] had to have North American specs.”
Bradley explained that to spec the phone for compatibility only in the Canadian market “didn’t make a lot of sense” for Huawei in the past, which affected how Huawei marketed itself in that region.
“It made no business sense for us whatsoever to be investing in building a huge brand, a consumer brand, for Huawei, when in fact we didn’t have those consumer products.” Instead, Huawei has been more focused on selling to operators in Canada and investing in research like 5G.
Huawei has since become one of the largest smartphone manufacturers in the world and has amassed more than 700 employees in Canada alone. Huawei’s CEO Richard Yu has even spoken about overtaking Apple and Samsung in the coming years. “We recognize that we now need to build a consumer brand [in Canada],” said Brady, and it’s starting with the latest flagships.
As to whether Huawei was eyeing deals with tier one manufacturers in the US, Bradley told me that he could only speak for Huawei’s plans in Canada, but noted: “We think it’s a good chance to demonstrate that the Huawei brand can be successful with tier 1 operators in a North American market.”
That notion, combined with Richard Yu’s comments, could indicate that the company is closer than ever to US deals.
Read our hands-on Huawei P10 review at the link and give us your thoughts on Huawei’s move into Canada in the comments.