For the first time in nine years, Samsung or Apple didn’t lead the global smartphone charts. As per a report by Canalys, Huawei sold the most phones in the second quarter of 2020 — courtesy of its growing dominance in China, the largest smartphone market.
Canalys claims at 55.8 million units, Huawei shipped about 2 million more phones than Samsung (53.7 million) which retained the second spot, followed by Apple. While countries like the United States — where Samsung and Apple hold pole positions — continue to struggle with COVID-19 restrictions, China has largely returned to normal allowing Huawei to close the gap.
That’s apparent in the figures too. Huawei’s smartphone sales fell by 5% as opposed to the same time last year. However, Samsung suffered a steep 30% fall against Q2 2019 when it reportedly shipped over 70 million phones.
Ben Stanton, a senior analyst at Canalys, says Huawei has been able to take “full advantage of the Chinese economic recovery to reignite its smartphone business.” “Samsung has a very small presence in China, with less than 1% market share, and has seen its core markets, such as Brazil, India, the United States, and Europe, ravaged by outbreaks and subsequent lockdowns,” he added.
Analysts are wary as to whether Huawei can sustain this top spot when the rest of the countries’ smartphone sales begin recovering.
Nearly three-quarters of Huawei’s shipments are from China and its ailing relationships in the west have cost it a 27% decline in non-China regions. The Chinese vendor’s phones outside of China no longer offer Google services due to the trade U.S. ban and that can potentially wipe out that remaining quarter of its business.
On top of that, Apple’s more competitive push through affordable phones such as the iPhone 11 and iPhone SE has also affected Huawei’s share in China. As per a Counterpoint Research report from last week, in the second quarter of 2020, Apple was the fastest-growing smartphone brand in China as its shipments soared by 32% year-on-year.
Canalys analyst, Mo Jio believes it will be hard for Huawei “to maintain its lead in the long term”. “Its major channel partners in key regions, such as Europe, are increasingly wary of ranging Huawei devices, taking on fewer models, and bringing in new brands to reduce risk. Strength in China alone will not be enough to sustain Huawei at the top once the global economy starts to recover,” he commented further.
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