Huawei managed to squeak past Apple last year to become the world’s second largest smartphone maker, thanks to huge success in Asia and Europe. However, the US market remains a tough nut to crack. After ATT and Verizon backed out of deals to sell the company’s Mate 10 Pro flagship smartphone, Huawei is reportedly getting some more bad news. Electronics retailer Best Buy may be ending sales of the company’s unlocked phones.
The Mate 10 Pro was designed to compete directly with the latest phones from Samsung and Apple, but American consumers are largely unaware of Huawei as a brand. The carrier deals early this year were supposed to be the start of a major expansion for the company. ATT is said to have walked away at the last minute after getting pressure from the US government, which expressed concern over Huawei’s association with the Chinese government.
That left Huawei with no choice but to sell the Mate 10 Pro as an unlocked phone in the US. That’s what it did for several recent devices, and it failed to make much of an impact. Even though unlocked phones offer more freedom and faster updates, most American consumers get their smartphones direct from carriers because it’s easier than buying them elsewhere. If you can’t sell on a carrier, having your phone in retail stores is better than nothing. Now, Huawei might not even have that.
According to Reuters, Best Buy has stopped purchasing new stock from Huawei. It will sell through what it has, and they will be the end of its retail relationship with the Chinese phone maker. Neither Best Buy nor Huawei would comment on the record about this situation, but Reuters cites sources with knowledge of the matter.
Best Buy currently sells the Huawei Mate 10 Pro for $800 (on sale for $100 off currently) and the Mate SE for $250. It also lists a few phones from Huawei’s Honor sub-brand. Presumably, all these devices will go away if Best Buy follows through.
We don’t know why Best Buy would drop Huawei. There’s some speculation it could be thanks to Huawei’s social media account attempting to stuff the Mate 10 Pro listing with fake reviews. It’s also possible the Mate 10 Pro simply isn’t selling well enough to continue stocking it. In addition, there’s an outside chance someone in the government is pushing Best Buy to stop selling Huawei phones.
Without Best Buy, Huawei’s retail operations in the US will be limited to Amazon, Newegg, and BH — none of which have real-world retail operations.