China’s two biggest smartphone vendors are reportedly working to tap the U.S. market next year.
Huawei and Xiaomi are in talks with carriers including Verizon and AT&T, according to Bloomberg, to bring flagship smartphones to the American market as soon as 2018. Negotiations “are still fluid,” the outlet reported, citing anonymous sources, and “it’s possible no agreements will materialize.”
Bloomberg’s report was echoed in part by the Associated Press, which said this morning that Huawei will launch its Mate 10 phone through unnamed U.S. network operators next year. Richard Yu, president of Huawei’s consumer business, said the company will announce details of that launch next month as the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, according to the report.
Chinese smartphone vendors continue to gain traction worldwide, building on momentum they’ve established in their home market. IHS Markit reported recently that both Samsung and Apple—which are the top two global smartphone vendors—struggled during the first half of 2017 as Huawei, Xiaomi and other Chinese companies saw their worldwide market share grow.
“This is a direct result of smartphone OEM efforts to select and concentrate in order to improve product portfolios and increase profitability,” said Jusy Hong, associate director of mobile devices for IHS, in an October press release. “In addition, more Chinese OEMs are selling their smartphone models outside of China, which intensifies competition and generates more globally popular models.”
Eight of the 22 top-shipping models in the first half of 2017 were from Chinese vendors, IHS said, with each model shipping at least 6 million units. Oppo claimed five of the most popular phones; Xiaomi accounted for two and Huawei produced one.
Like some other China-based manufacturers, both Xiaomi and Huawei have seen their smartphone shipments grow significantly thanks in large part due to booming sales both in their home market and in emerging markets such as India. Xiaomi, for instance, shipped 23.2 million smartphones in the second quarter of 2017, up from 14.7 million during the same period in the prior year, according to Strategy Analytics, and its global market share increased from 4.3% to 6.4%.
Chinese vendors have generally struggled in the United States due to a lack of partnerships with carriers, though, who remain the dominant distribution channels. If Huawei and Xiaomi can convince operators to sell their handsets directly to consumers, they could reshape the American smartphone market significantly.