As we reported a few weeks ago, Chinese hardware manufacturer Huawei — the world’s second largest smartphone maker as of last summer — has set their sights on US soil to feed a need to for expansion:
Those plans have been put on hold. Just as Huawei consumer business group CEO Richard Yu was set to take the stage at CES — the major Las Vegas electronics showcase where companies from around the world show off their latest gadgets — AT&T bluntly announced that they were pulling out of an all-but-done deal to include Huawei’s flagship Mate 10 Pro phone among the devices included with their service. Business Insider reports:
AT&T’s cancellation comes weeks after the US Senate and House intelligence committees reportedly sent letters to the Federal Communications Commission arguing that Huawei was a security threat. It was also worried about US carrier deals with the smartphone maker.
A second deal between Huawei and AT&T competitor Verizon is “also looking shaky,” according to the report.
It’s a tough break for Huawei, which fought off similar accusations of posing a security threat to US institutions back in October 2012.
Tech site The Verge was on site for Richard Yu’s understandably awkward and anti-climactic CES talk, which ended with an unscripted flourish:
The Huawei boss did something unexpected at the end of his keynote, however. Framed by a simple slide reading “Something I Want to Share,” Yu proceeded to address the failure of Huawei’s carrier deal directly. Shedding the earlier hesitation in his speech, he made the point that American phone buyers can’t have the best and widest choice of device if Huawei products — those of the world’s third-biggest phone vendor — weren’t on offer. “Everybody knows that in the US market that over 90 percent of smartphones are sold by carrier channels,” he said. “It’s a big loss for us, and also for carriers, but the more big loss is for consumers, because consumers don’t have the best choice.”
Watch a short clip of Richard Yu’s CES speech (shot by The Verge’s Vlad Savov) here. Luckily for Huawei, their business is as strong as ever on the domestic front: just days ago they won a significant patent battle in Shenzhen against their chief rival, Korean smartphone maker Samsung.
Cover photo: The Verge