Huawei and Xiaomi are presently negotiating smartphone retail partnerships with a number of U.S. wireless carriers including Verizon and AT&T, Bloomberg reported on Friday, citing people familiar with the discussions. The two Chinese original equipment manufacturers are said to be primarily interested in launching their Android flagships in the country and are hoping to do so next year. Mid-range and entry-level offerings aren't part of the talks and the focus on premium devices is likely related to the fact that the U.S. is the largest flagship market on the planet. The negotiations are still in an early phase and no concrete agreements have yet been reached, sources claim, adding that the Chinese phone makers may still fail to find enough common ground with mobile service providers.
Huawei already launched its 2016 Mate 9 flagship through Amazon in the United States and is likely to do the same with the recently announced Mate 10 next year, yet the company must win support from national wireless carriers if it hopes to gain a remotely significant share of the market. While phone subsidies have been eroding in the U.S. wireless industry over the years, telecoms are still offering two-year financing plans and are hence selling much more mobile devices than retailers, with only a minority of American consumers paying full phone prices upfront. Huawei and AT&T were already in talks over selling the Mate 10 in the U.S. earlier this year, according to previous reports, but it's currently unclear whether the scope of their discussions expanded because of Xiaomi's strengthening interest in the same market or another reason.
Huawei and Xiaomi's ambitions to gain a significant stateside foothold may initially be hampered by the general lack of their brand awareness in the country but that state of affairs isn't likely to discourage the two tech giants who are aiming for long-term profits. While the Trump administration's protectionist policy created an economic climate that isn't conducive to foreign companies successfully entering the United States, both are believed to be willing to risk doing so. In Xiaomi's case, a major U.S. entry would likely help propel its rumored IPO even further, while Huawei must establish itself in the country if it hopes to realize its often repeated aspiration to become the world's largest smartphone manufacturer, i.e. surpass Apple and Samsung in terms of mobile device sales and shipments.