With Huawei's recent emergence as the second largest OEM in the world, the company was poised to finally make a big push into the US market. Instead, their efforts were derailed by an unlikely foe, the US government. As a result, American customers will miss out on the newly-released Huawei P20.
Rumor had it this year that Huawei was finally going to bring both of their flagship series to the US. With an eye on Samsung's number one spot, Huawei had been coordinating a strategic push into the US, learning from the failures of past Chinese OEMs such as LeEco. But as efforts by the US government ramped up, it looks as if Huawei will lose this battle, and Americans will lose access to a great product.
For many of us in the US, we were first introduced to the feud between Huawei and the US government during CES 2018. Richard Yu, the CEO of Huawei's consumer products division, famously went off-script in sharing his anger with US carriers pulling out of a potential deal with Huawei for the Mate 10 Pro. This was to be Huawei's first big push into US shores, as previous phones had only been sold online, where only 10% of smartphone purchases are conducted.
About a month later, the heads of six major US intelligence agencies submitted a report discouraging Americans from using Huawei products. According to the report, Huawei's founder was "effectively an arm of the Chinese government," so Huawei devices could potentially be used as a way for the Chinese government to gather data on Americans. Huawei denied the claims, but the damage was done. After losing both AT&T and Verizon earlier, it was unlikely the other two major carriers would do business with them.
Senator Michael Conaway then introduced a bill (Defending U.S. Government Communications Act) which would ban US government agencies from using phones and equipment from Huawei and ZTE (the other company named in the US intelligence report). The bill has yet to pass, but if it does, it would effectively stop all efforts of Huawei into the US.
The final straw came a day before Huawei's announcement of the P20 and P20 Pro. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai introduced a proposal that would bar any cellular carrier that sold Huawei products from accessing money from the Universal Service Fund (a fund designed to provide low-income areas internet access). While not specified, the proposal does mention the recent concern of some Chinese-based communication equipment suppliers who may pose a national security risk. This proposal is also in response to 18 lawmakers sending a letter to the chairman in December raising their concern over Huawei and their role in Chinese government espionage.
On March 27, Huawei revealed the P20 and P20 Pro. These flagship phones are the latest and greatest from Huawei, offering an industry-first triple rear camera array with 5x hybrid zoom. For a complete breakdown of the new phone, check out the link below.
According to early rumors, this phone was set to be the first P series device to officially launch in the US, with the ultimate goal of spearheading Huawei's brand awareness on US shores. And while Huawei did announce a global release, we weren't sure if this included the US. Well, we now have Huawei's official statement.
"The recently announced HUAWEI P20 and P20 Pro, similar to all other P-Series devices, will not be coming to the U.S. market. We are committed to U.S. consumers and focused on our Mate franchise with the Mate 10 Pro and Mate SE. These two devices will continue to be our focus in 2018."
So while the rest of the world will enjoy the P20 and P20 Pro on April 6th, US customers are limited to importing the device. While the mention of the Mate series in the quote does leave US customer some solace, with the ever-growing pressure of Congress and the US government, there is a chance the Mate 11 (or Mate 20) won't see US shores.
What do you think about the Huawei versus US government feud? Do you wish the P20 was coming to the US? Will you import the phone? Let us know in the comments below.