Huawei fails to get AT&T to sell its phones in the US
Huawei and Xiaomi have both been negotiating with carriers to bring their popular phones to the US market
Huawei Technologies has failed to strike a deal for AT&T to sell its flagship phones to American consumers, a setback for China’s top mobile-phone maker, which was expected to unveil a partnership with a US carrier as early as this week, according to people familiar with the matter.
Even without an immediate partner that would help it officially enter the US market, Huawei will still sell a version of its new Mate 10 Pro smartphone that is unlocked and not tied to a specific carrier, according to a person familiar with the company, who asked not to be identified discussing private matters.
Huawei and Xiaomi, another leading Chinese handset maker, have both been negotiating with carriers including AT&T and Verizon Communications to bring their popular phones to the US market, people familiar with the companies said last month.
The US mobile-phone market is dominated by Apple and Samsung. Since most phones are bought through carriers, it’s almost impossible for a manufacturer to gain serious market share without support from AT&T or Verizon, the two largest US wireless networks.
“Over the past five years Huawei has proven itself by delivering premium devices with integrity globally and in the US market,” a spokesman for Huawei told Bloomberg News on Monday.
“On Tuesday Huawei will introduce new products to the US market, including availability. We look forward to sharing more information with you then.”
AT&T declined to comment. The Wall Street Journal earlier reported that AT&T walked away from a deal to sell Huawei phones.
Without AT&T, Huawei can still try to forge deals with Verizon and the other carriers. Huawei already tried selling its flagship Mate 9 phone in the US via e-commerce websites like Amazon.com, but working directly with wireless partners would give China’s No. 1 phone maker a wider presence across the US through retail stores, carrier websites and TV commercials.
A person familiar with the matter told Reuters that Huawei and AT&T held talks, but security concerns arose. It could not be learned whether the two sides ever reached a deal, and neither side has confirmed the talks.
But the Journal reported that Huawei, the world’s third largest smartphone maker by shipments last year, was expected to announce that it had struck an agreement with AT&T at Las Vegas trade show CES on Tuesday.
AT&T declined to comment. Huawei declined to comment on the talks or security concerns.
In a statement, Huawei spokesman Charles Zinkowski said the company would announce new products for the US market on Tuesday “including availability” but did not give further details. Huawei phones are available for purchase in the United States but have never been distributed by a major carrier.
“Over the past five years Huawei has proven itself by delivering premium devices with integrity globally and in the US market,” Zinkowski said in a statement.