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Huawei and its peers won't win over the US without trust

Huawei and its peers won't win over the US without trust
From Engadget - January 17, 2018

You can almost hear the trepidation in Yu's voice as he begins. "You know today, uh ... Many people are waiting [for] me to announce that we are, uh, partnership with a carrier. Many of you guys have seen the newspapers that something is happened. That, uh, unfortunately this time, we cannot, uh, have this, uh, uh, to sell this phone, you know, from the carrier channel." Yu laughs nervously as he says this. "Everybody knows that in the US market, that, uh ... over 90 percent of smartphones are sold by the carrier channels," he adds. Whether it's due to nerves or frustration, his almost-candid rantlet is refreshing, his motivation clear. Yu has had enough.

For years, Huawei has made phones that are well-received by global and American media alike. In the US, however, the company's devices are consistently criticized for not being sold through a carrier. Like Yu says, a vast majority of phones bought in the US are from carriers, and the apparent inability to make a phone that passes stringent carrier requirements not only limits Huawei's access to American customers but also makes the company seem incompetent.

The thing is, Huawei is anything but. In recent years, its phones have greatly improved in quality, especially when it comes to design. It seemed to have finally gained enough momentum to achieve carrier buy-in, with multiple reports saying the company had clinched AT&T's approval to sell the Mate 10 Pro. Yu's speech seems to confirm this, although he never mentions the reason for the dissolution of the partnership. The Information reported that political reasons were behind the last-minute pullout while Reuters said shortly after that Congress lobbied for AT&T to drop the deal.

In its official statement, Huawei does not directly address the deal and why it fell through. "We have the strongest confidence in our products and will continue to innovate and break new ground. At the same time, we believe that U.S. consumers deserve equal opportunity and the choice to enjoy the best technology and more smartphone options through more channels, just like other satisfied Huawei users around the world," the company writes.

Huawei is not the only major Chinese company with its eyes locked on America. Baidu, which is Google's equivalent in China, showed off a trio of smart speakers at CES, and company reps told Engadget that it definitely wants to bring its products to the US. Alibaba, also known as China's Amazon, also wants to establish a presence in America. But there are many challenges clouding these companies' ability to forecast a timeline.

Chinese companies simply do not have a good reputation in the US.

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