Is your smartphone a double agent?
Following a warning from the U.S. government’s top security agencies on Chinese-made phones, at least one mainstream U.S. retailer has decided to stop selling them. Best Buy has dropped smartphones, smartwatches or laptops from Chinese manufacturer Huawei.
Huawei is the world’s third-largest smartphone maker. Best Buy is the United States’ largest electronics retailer.
In February the U.S. government — specifically the FBI, CIA and NSA — told consumers that the company’s devices opened them to the possibility of being spied on by the Chinese government.
Another maker, ZTE, fell afoul of the intelligence agencies, too.
Meanwhile, a House bill is in the works to stop government agencies from buying Chinese-made phones. The argument is that the firms, though private, are heavily under the influence of the Chinese state.
(The irony, of course, is that Congress just re-upped legislation allowing U.S. spy agencies to listen to your calls without a warrant.)
Huawei is trying hard to compete with Apple and Samsung. The fact that it will no longer have a place on the shelves the largest U.S. electronics retailer will surely hurt their business.
Walmart, a Best Buy rival, will continue to carry some devices from the smartphone maker.
“We don’t comment on specific contracts with vendors, and we make decisions to change what we sell for a variety of reasons,” a Best Buy spokeswoman said.
“Our products and solutions are used by major carriers, Fortune 500 companies and hundreds of millions of consumers in more than 170 countries around the world,” a Huawei spokesman told the Wall Street Journal.
“We have earned the trust of our partners across the global value chain.”
Amazon and Newegg sell Huawei products, so the company clearly has promise to grow online, even if brick-and-mortar retailers drop them.
Huawei also is a world leader in developing cellular tower equipment and related infrastructure.
President Trump’s recent decision to scuttle a recent $117 billion takeover attempt by Broadcom, a rival of chip firm Qualcomm, plays a role in the drama over foreign-made phones.
One government advisory panel warned that the deal could hurt American firm Qualcomm’s bid to develop an edge over Huawei in wireless-technology research
This recent news will surely make an impact in Huawei’s profitability, though the question is how it will combat threats to its overall business, and if the Chinese government will step in to block U.S. tech firms on their home soil in response.
This news has sparked comments and controversy online:
A result of political witch hunt in US
— Chen Weihua 陈卫华 (@chenweihua4) March 22, 2018
a direct response to expressing interest in supporting #crypto.
— Auntie Bitcoins (@auntieBTC) March 22, 2018
We invented most of the technology .Then why this foreign companies gaining our market share at our expense ? I am not isolationist but I want American companies to compete against them fare and square.
— Lone wolf. (@Mukthijodha) March 22, 2018