The world’s third-largest smartphone manufacturer is officially going to take a stab at the U.S. market. The Information reports that Chinese electronics company Huawei, come February, will put 2017’s highly-regarded Mate 10 device in U.S. AT&T stores.
Just last week, Huawei’s Richard Yu confirmed that the Mate 10 would make its way to U.S. carriers in 2018, though he didn’t specify which carrier. We’re expecting to hear official confirmation about Huawei’s U.S. plans at CES 2018.
This will be the first time that a Huawei-branded phone is sold by a major U.S. carrier as a part of its main service, putting Huawei on the rack right next to iPhones and Samsung devices.
Huawei’s growth has been gradual, first making a name for itself as a creator of low-priced devices with higher-end specs. But while devices in that realm sell exceptionally well, their margins are quite low; if Huawei wants to hold a candle to Samsung and Apple, they need to be successful in the $500+ range.
Huawei’s hopes are high that it will be able to translate its overwhelming international success to America, which is the world’s biggest market for phones that cost over $500.00. The major hurdle it faces is that most Americans are not at all familiar with their brand. A marketing employee tasked with helping to break the company in America was quoted, “Even our name Huawei is hard to pronounce for American people.” (For the record, Huawei is pronounced HWA-way.)
While the Mate 10 on AT&T is a huge first for Huawei, it is not the first time a Huawei-made device went on sale in America. For example, the Google Nexus 6P was made by Huawei, which itself was also given high marks by most tech reviewers. But even the enormousness of Google hasn’t been able to make much of a dent in the Apple/Samsung dominance of the American smartphone market; Google stands now at less than 1% of the U.S. market, as compared to Apple’s 30.4% and Samsung’s 25.1%. In addition to the Nexus 6P, Huawei sells the Mate 9, Honor 6X, 7X, and Honor 8 unlocked in the U.S.
In other words, Huawei has an extremely uphill battle, and this AT&T exclusive is only step one of a long and difficult process.
What will be most interesting to see is how Huawei plans to translate its proprietary version of Android, called EMUI, for American users. While the Mate 10 and other Huawei devices get high reviews for their design and specs, the one thing that continually is called out is their colorful-but-messy software design. In an internal memo, Richard Yu referred to some of the recent EMUI design choices as “stupid.” Could this mean a revamped “American version” of EMUI will drop with the U.S.-variant of the Mate 10? We’ll know soon enough.
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