Best Buy Pulls Plug On Huawei Smartphones – Report

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

National security move as largest US electronics chain in America is to cease stocking phones from China’s Huawei

The largest electronics chain in the United States will reportedly cut its ties with Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, and stop selling its smartphones.

It has also apparently ceased to order in new stock from the Chinese firm. The move comes amid growing concern in the United States about the use of technology from foreign countries deemed hostile to America.

Last month the heads of major American intelligence agencies including the CIA, FBI and NSA urged the general public not to buy products or services from Huawei.

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Western threat?

The US has long held a deep distrust of Chinese (and indeed Russian) products. Back in 2012 for example, Huawei and ZTE strongly denied they posed a security threat to the United States’ infrastructure.

But the fresh warning from US intelligence bosses about using any products from Chinese telecoms maker ZTE as well, could well deal a fatal blow to Huawei’s ambitions in the United States.

To this end Best Buy will cut ties with China’s Huawei Technologies Reuters reported, citing a person familiar with the matter.

Indeed, CNET also reported that Best Buy will stop selling Huawei’s devices over the next few weeks, amid other media reports that the electronics chain has already stopped ordering in new stock.

A Best Buy spokesman told Reuters the firm could not comment on specific contracts with vendors. “We make decisions to change what we sell for a variety of reasons,” he said.

Huawei meanwhile told Reuters in emailed comments that it valued its relationship with Best Buy but could not discuss details of its partnership with the US firm.

“Huawei currently sells its products through a range of leading consumer electronics retailers in the US,” the firm said, adding its products met the “highest security, privacy and engineering standards in the industry”.

US shutout

But there are signs that the US market is slowly being closed down for Chinese firms.

American carrier AT&T earlier this year apparently scrapped a plan to offer Huawei handsets after some members of Congress lobbied against the idea with federal regulators, sources told Reuters. Verizon Communications also ended its plans to sell Huawei phones last year.

This means that Huawei doesn’t have any of its phones being sold by any US carriers, where a majority of Americans typically purchase their phones.

It is worth remembering that Huawei is the world’s third-largest smartphone vendor behind Apple and Samsung, but this move could spell the end for Huawei’s hopes of expansion in the US, as it is understood that Best Buy was one of Huawei’s biggest retail partner in that country.

The move will also leave Amazon.com as one of the few remaining retail outlets for Huawei’s smartphones in the United States.

Huawei has for years had to deny it is a threat to Western infrastructure, amid claims by some that it works with Chinese intelligence agencies.

In 2012 Huawei was also banned from supplying kit for a national broadband infrastructure deployment in Australia.

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