Huawei can’t catch a break in the States. Just at the company was set to announce a big carrier deal at CES, AT&T reportedly switch gears last minute. Now, a week before the company is set reveal its next big flagship at an event in Paris, Best Buy is reportedly planning to stop sales of the company’s products “over the next few weeks.”
That news comes courtesy of a report from Reuters, based on a “person with knowledge of the matter.” The Chinese smartphone maker was clearly banking on 2018 to be the year it finally expanded sales to the world’s third largest smartphone market. The AT&T deal was reportedly all but finalized ahead of the company’s big CES push.
The last minute nature of the news clearly left the company in a lurch, with consumer CEO Richard Yu going off-script to excoriate carriers and U.S. officials that have repeatedly raised concerns over the company’s perceived ties to the Chinese government.
Huawei offered a non-comment to TechCrunch in the wake of the report. “Huawei values the relationship it has with Best Buy and all our other retail partners,” the company writes in the statement. “As a policy, we do not discuss the details of our partner relationships.”
The statement goes on to offer the standard sort of defense of the company’s position.
Huawei currently sells its products through a range of leading consumer electronics retailers in the U.S. We have a proven history of delivering products that meet the highest security, privacy and engineering standards in the industry and are certified by the Federal Communications Commission for sale in the U.S. Our smartphones are widely acclaimed – both among critics and consumers – for their innovation in areas like battery life, processing power, build quality, and camera capabilities. Our products are sold by 46 of the top 50 global operators, and we have won the trust and confidence of individuals and organizations in 170 countries around the world. We are committed to earning that same trust with U.S. consumers and making our products accessible in as many ways as possible.
A Best Buy spokesperson told TechCrunch, “We don’t comment on specific contracts with vendors, and we make decisions to change what we sell for a variety of reasons.” Noncommittal, sure, but it does appear to acknowledge a shift in the company’s relationship with the smartphone maker.
Until now, Best Buy has been a saving grace in the company’s U.S. plans. While it’s true that most smartphone purchases occur through carriers in the States, the chain is still the largest consumer electronics retailer in the U.S., marking another major setback for the company’s plans.