The Wall Street Journal reported earlier in the day that AT&T had backed away from a deal that would have seen AT&T Wireless carry and sell an undisclosed Huawei “flagship” mobile phone in its retail locations. Sean P and I have discussed that this might have been a solid way for Huawei (currently one of the top smartphone OEMs in the world, but who’s made limited inroads in the US market as of yet) to get a foothold in the very lucrative United States sales territory.
We’ve both argued back and forth during our podcasts in the past about whether carrier support is necessary for sales success, and what it boils down to is how you define success. Huawei is very large and isn’t having any issues selling phones, period. But if they want to grow even further, a deal with a US carrier seems likely. WSJ also reported today that Huawei is seen as a “spy threat” and this may have had something to do with AT&T withdrawing from the deal. Considering the current US government climate and attitude towards wired and wireless broadband carriers, and its support of the end of net neutrality, it probably wouldn’t come as a shock to anyone that nationalism played a role in this whole dance.
Huawei will have to find another partner in the US carrier market to tango with.
**UPDATE: 9to5Google is reporting that it was indeed “political pressure” that scuttled the AT&T and Huawei deal, with Huawei reportedly suprised by the news. This makes snese, considering that Huawei was poised to make a major announcent at CES 2018 this week which was presumed to be that they had indeed landed a carrier deal with AT&T.
**2nd UPDATE: Android Police is now reporting that Verizon may be under similar pressure to end a deal with Huawei that was scheduled for later on this year.