The world’s third-largest smartphone brand remains relatively unknown in the United States, but next year, that could start to change. According to The Information, Chinese smartphone giant Huawei hopes to make a big splash in the US in 2018 by debuting a flagship phone on AT&T. It would mark the first time that a US carrier has pushed a high-end, Huawei-branded smartphone.
Though high-end Huawei phones are already available in the US, it’s been through stores like Best Buy and Amazon. But the first stop for many smartphone shoppers is at their phone carrier, and there, Huawei hasn’t had much luck. Some of its lower-end phones have been available, but they haven’t been heavily advertised. For Huawei, they’re also less of a success, since they have lower profit margins than pricier devices.
Hauwei’s latest flagship, the Mate 10, will reportedly debut on AT&T in February. The company is also planning a $100 million advertising push in the US next year, according to The Information. The report follows comments made earlier this month by Huawei’s consumers business president, Richard Yu, who said that Huawei “will sell our flagship phone, our product, in the US market through carriers next year.”
Bloomberg also reported this month that Huawei is negotiating with Verizon to carry its flagship phones. That report also said that fellow Chinese smartphone company Xiaomi — which has fluctuated between being the fifth and sixth largest smartphone vendor in recent quarters — is working on deals with AT&T and Verizon, too.
There’ll be a world of challenges ahead of Huawei (and Xiaomi, if it completes a deal) as it makes its way into the US. While Huawei’s phones are often quite good, they aren’t appreciably better than products from entrenched competitors like Apple and Samsung, and in many cases, they’re obviously worse. Not only will technology be an issue, but the company will first have to get past the problem of name recognition, which is likely what this big planned advertising push is all about.
Still, even some success in the US could help Huawei grow in a notable way. The company is on pace to overtake Apple as the second-largest phone vendor — and it already did, briefly, earlier this year.