2018 was meant to be the year that Huawei finally cracked the US market. The Chinese company, which has risen to become the second-biggest smartphone company in the world by sales, designed a killer Android phone that would appeal to the US market, set up key distribution deals with AT&T and Verizon, and planned a $100 million ad campaign to accompany the launch.
Unfortunately for Huawei, Congressional leaders were concerned about a Chinese tech company pairing with US networks, and lawmakers stepped in at the last minute to block the deal. That completely derailed Huawei’s 2018 roadmap, leaving the company with a bunch of US inventory and adverts, but without the support of the wireless carriers that traditionally sell 85% of the smartphones to consumers.
So, up retail creek without a single salesperson to help paddle, it seems that Huawei has resorted to underhanded tactics to try and move its phones. According to 9to5Google, Huawei took to a private Facebook group to solicit favorable reviews for the Mate 10 Pro in return for a chance to be a ‘beta tester’ for the phone. The only catch? People were posting bogus reviews of a phone that wasn’t even on sale yet.
In the post on Facebook (since deleted), Huawei said “Ready for the Mate 10 Pro? We are looking for US Beta Testers. Here’s how to enter: 1) Tell us why you WANT to own the Mate 10 Pro in the review section of our pre-sale Best Buy retail page here.” Unsurprisingly, the Best Buy listing was flooded with 100+ 5-star reviews of the phone — which, to be clear, isn’t on sale yet.
The play here was obvious: Best Buy and Best Buy Mobile are the biggest physical retail stores for smartphones in the US, outside of carrier’s own stores. If Huawei could flood Best Buy with positive reviews, it might help it with sales at its biggest physical distributor in the US.
Unfortunately for Huawei, Best Buy appears to have pulled the fake reviews for now, and the notoreity certainly isn’t going to help it sell the Mate 10 Pro. Yes, it’s almost impossibly difficult to sell an expensive Android phone without going through the carriers, but I don’t think fake reviews are the answer.