Huawei set to quit US market
If you still had any lingering hopes that Huawei flagship devices like the stunning new P20 series might somehow land in the US, those hopes look to be dashed. The New York Times is reporting that, despite assurances to the contrary, Huawei is reversing course on the US market. The Times based its piece on the fact that the Chinese company laid off five key American employees last week, chief among them being William Plummer, its principle government lobbyist.
Huawei’s US woes date back to 2012 when a report from the US Congress first suggested that its links to the Chinese government meant that all aspects of its business, including the telecommunications technology that it sells to power mobile phone networks, posed a threat to US national security. Despite this, it invested over US$1M to lobby congress and eventually moved to sell its highly regarded Mate 10 Pro in the US this year.
Although initially backing Huawei, telcos including Verizon and AT&T responded to government pressure by dropping the handset from their respective lineups before it went on sale. It tried selling the Mate 10 Pro through retail partners including Best Buy, but without carrier support and ongoing negative publicity, those deals have too, essentially fallen through. All of which now looks like Huawei has no room left to maneuver.
News that Huawei has all but officially withdrawn from the US market coincides with a US government ban on fellow Chinese smartphone maker ZTE. ZTE is forbidden from buying components from US smartphone suppliers like Qualcomm for the next 7 years after it was found to be illegally backchanneling its smartphones for sale in Iran, bypassing trade sanctions. The timing of sanctions being imposed on ZTE could hardly have come at a worse time for Huawei, which looks like its US ambitions will be on hold indefinitely.