Following Huawei's unsuccessful attempt to negotiate a smartphone retail partnership with AT&T which the company essentially confirmed at the latest iteration of CES 2018, the Chinese original equipment manufacturer is likely to place an even larger focus on Europe than it already did, The Information reported Tuesday, citing one of the firm's executives who wasn't named. The same source also confirmed Huawei has been exploring the idea of a partnership with Verizon but noted that the deal with AT&T was meant to serve as a basis for all similar collaborations with wireless carriers in the United States going forward. Following its failure to materialize, Huawei is essentially giving up on trying to establish a larger presence in the country for the time being.
The official described the outcome of the company's negotiations with AT&T as completely surprising and "really, really bad" for Huawei, adding that the OEM has no other realistic options for getting its phones to a larger number of American consumers. With U.S. carriers accounting for the vast majority of domestic smartphone sales on an annual basis, no company can hope to penetrate the market without a mobile service provider backing it and retailing its phones, especially in the context of expensive flagships like the Mate 10 series which Huawei was hoping to launch through AT&T. The lineup will still be retailed through Amazon and several other distributors but isn't expected to achieve a notable level of commercial success in the country, much like the Mate 9 which was also made available for purchase through select retailers in the U.S. early last year.
The development is said to be a direct result of political pressure in the country, with Washington effectively preventing AT&T from agreeing to a deal Huawei originally planned to announce Tuesday in Las Vegas. While the company's electronics chief Richard Yu already called the failed negotiations with AT&T a "big loss" for consumers, some industry watchers are quick to point out the firm immensely benefitted from much more protectionist policies in China and is now complaining for being on the receiving end of similar practices, primarily after it got on the radar of some Western governments due to its close ties with Beijing and numerous allegations of intellectual property theft.