NEW YORK – The reporter in me finds it more interesting to figure out who's missing in action at a big media event like Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 announcement rather than focusing on the media hogs.
Among the conspicuous no-shows at Microsoft's extravaganza in San Francisco this week were China’s Huawei and the U.S. carrier Sprint Nextel, whose sale to Japan’s Softbank was announced earlier this month.
Where was Huawei, China's leading telecommunications equipment maker and a legitimate contender in the global wireless market? According to reports, one Huawei executive stated in a blog posted to Sina Weibo, China’s equivalent to Twitter, more than 10 days ago, that the company would skip the Windows Phone 8 launch due to a “Sino-U.S. political and economic storm.”
Unfortunately, we can’t verify this since I haven’t been able to find the alleged blog post on Weibo and a Huawei hasn't replied to our calls for comment.
But it is a fact that Huawei’s handset was not among those displayed by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer during the launch. Microsoft showed Windows Phone 8 handsets by Nokia, Samsung and HTC. There was no mention of Huawei.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announces Windows Phone 8.
If Huawei’s conspicuous absence at Microsoft’s event was indeed triggered by politics, the cause and effect are easy to trace. A congressional committee earlier this month issued a report accusing Huawei and China's other large telecom gear maker, ZTE, of designing communications equipment that allows unauthorized access by the Chinese government, a charge that has stoked national security concerns along with fears of corporate espionage.
Regardless of the report's conclusions, they have little to do with Windows Phone 8 handsets developed by a Chinese company. Do the accusations in the House report extend even to Huawei somehow trying to wire up Windows Phone 8 for the purposes of espionage?
Give me a break.
Let’s look next at Sprint Nextel and Windows Phone 8 in Japan.