Things are getting worse and worse for Huawei. Not only did the company’s talks with AT&T and Verizon fall through, but it looks like the supply of unlocked phones may soon be limited, too. According to a report from CNET, Best Buy has stopped ordering smartphones from Huawei and will stop selling Huawei devices within the next few weeks.
The report, which cites “a person familiar with the matter,” says that Best Buy made the decision to end the relationship between the two companies. When we reached out to Best Buy, a spokesperson said that “we don’t comment on specific contracts with vendors, and we make decisions to change what we sell for a variety of reasons.” Huawei got back to us with a similar comment, saying that “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.”
The move will be a big deal for Huawei. Because of the fact that the company has had talks fall through with the two largest carriers in the U.S. it may have been hoping to push the sale of unlocked phones. Huawei is currently the third largest smartphone seller in the world — behind Apple and Samsung — but it has long struggled to build a real presence in the U.S. Best Buy was one of the company’s biggest retail partners in the U.S. — and also one of the only places in the U.S. where customers could go and see Huawei phones in person before they buy one. Now, customers will largely have to trust that the phone is what they’re looking for based on online reviews and photos.
The majority of Huawei’s U.S. troubles come from security concerns. In 2012, Huawei and ZTE were accused by the House Intelligence Committee of posing a threat to the national security of the U.S., and the government even banned U.S. companies from buying their telecommunications equipment. At the time, the Committee stressed that it was not referring to Huawei’s smartphones — but that doesn’t mean that the reputation of the company’s phones has gone unaffected. Still, the company has been able to sell its phones through retailers like Best Buy, Amazon, and Newegg — but with one of those big retail partners gone, it will be interesting to see what Huawei’s next steps will be.
Updated on March 22: Added statement from Huawei.
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