U.S. wireless carrier AT&T turned down a deal with Chinese electronics company Huawei on Monday, according to The Wall Street Journal. A contract agreement would have authorized AT&T to be the first mobile service provider in the country to carry Huawei smartphones in its stores. Huawei is the third largest phone vendor in the world, behind Samsung and Apple. While the Chinese company has not previously sold its smartphones through U.S. carriers, devices made by Huawei can still be found on retail websites such as Amazon, eBay, Walmart, and Swappa.
Like many other smartphone manufacturers, the company also sells other gadgets such as smartwatches, tablets, and computers. But Huawei has reportedly been keen on entering the U.S. with premium devices like the Mate 9 and the upcoming Mate 10 in order to establish its brand in the world’s largest flagship market. Wireless carriers often market devices via sales and special offers to entice consumers to switch from another carrier, or to upgrade their plan, and AT&T’s potential deal would have allowed the company to market and sell Huawei devices on contracts. This would have been particularly advantageous for Huawei, as carrier smartphones account for the majority of such device purchases in the country, according to most estimates. As suggested by recent reports, negotiations ended quietly and AT&T made no public announcement regarding the details of the exchange.
For some time, Huawei and AT&T have reportedly been discussing the possibility of a retail agreement. As most international phone manufacturers use the GSM network standard for wireless service, AT&T would have been a suitable partner for the phone maker. The deal with AT&T failed, setting Hauwei back and negatively affecting the company’s goal of outselling Samsung and Apple in the near future. Xiaomi, another Chinese smartphone manufacturer, is also said to be in the process of negotiating retail deals with both Verizon and AT&T, though it’s currently unclear whether the firm is making significant progress on that front. AT&T was supposed to carry Huawei’s flagship Mate 10 series starting this quarter, insiders said late last year. The company’s next premium handset lineup is expected to be announced at MWC 2018 next month.