Huawei phones will reportedly no longer be available at Best Buy. Citing a source, CNET reports that the retailer will no longer make any more orders for new Huawei smartphones, and will gradually phase out the inventory. Although, there was no official confirmation from Best Buy over the development, the retailer, however, did say that it changes its product offerings for a variety of reasons.
“We don’t comment on specific contracts with vendors, and we make decisions to change what we sell for a variety of reasons,” the retailer said, according to CNET.
Following such reports, Huawei released a statement, saying it “currently sells its products through a range of leading consumer electronics retailers in the U.S.” The firm also argued that its products are in line with the highest security, privacy and engineering standards in the industry, notes Reuters.
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Huawei further noted that their products are sold by 46 of the top 50 global operators and that the company has won the trust and confidence of individuals and organizations from 170 countries across the globe. Further, the company noted that they are focused towards earning the same trust with U.S. consumers and making their products accessible in as many ways as possible.
Huawei’s U.S. debut has not been smooth. The Chinese smartphone maker was earlier reportedly shrugged off by the U.S. carriers due to government pressure. The simmering tension in the U.S. over the Chinese smartphone manufacturers forced Huawei to sell its flagship smartphone Mate 10 Pro in the country only through open channels.
The U.S. agencies believe that the Chinese company might use its devices to spy. Back in 2012, a report hinted that Huawei and ZTE devices could pose a security threat, but there was no follow-up evidence, notes Engadget. In February, two Republican senators even proposed legislation to block the U.S. government from buying or leasing telecommunication equipment from Huawei or ZTE over the security concerns.
Besides the carriers, it seems the pressure might now be on the retailers like Best Buy to stay away from the brand. Nothing is confirmed, so there are chances that the decision from Best Buy could purely be profit-oriented. The retailer is under financial pressure, and has announced shutting down all 250 physical smartphone stores across the U.S. by May 31.
Huawei is the world’s third-largest smartphone vendor after Apple and Samsung, but has very little presence in the U.S. Best Buy was one of its biggest retail partners and one of the few places where Huawei phones could be seen physically. No U.S. carriers sell Huawei phones.
Speaking about its U.S. debut at CES in January, Richard Yu, CEO of the company’s consumer business, agreed to the fact that the dearth of carrier partners would hurt the business, but said, it was a “bigger blow to consumers” as they now get one less option.
Also, last year at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, Huawei’s chief executive, Ken Hu Houkun, pointed out that all the security concerns were groundless, and cited the company’s track record of servicing more than 400 telecom operators globally in the past 30 years.
The U.S. is not the only country that is concerned with the Chinese smartphone makers. Security experts in Canada are also expressing concerns about the growing bond between Canada and Huawei. In the past few years, the Chinese company has expanded its operation in the country, offering equipment used in the telecommunication infrastructure owned by the country’s biggest carriers and some of them also offer Huawei phones on their networks.
In addition, the Chinese company has entered into partnerships with Canadian universities, and is investing over half a billion dollars in researching 5G, the next generation of cellular networks. Speaking to the Globe and Mail, three former directors of Canada’s key national security agencies say that the company could be used as a medium for Chinese spying.
In its defense, Huawei Canada in an email to As It Happens noted that the company has been operating in Canada since 2008 without any problems, and its 700 employees would “continue to do whatever is required by Canadian operators and stakeholders to ensure Canada remains a global leader in telecommunications now, and in the future.” Separately, the Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale’s office told As It Happens that the government is aware of the concerns and deploys necessary measures to secure the critical infrastructure.