For the first time in nine years, Samsung or Apple did not lead the global smartphone charts. According to a report by Canalys, Huawei sold the most phones in the second quarter of 2020 – courtesy of its growing dominance in China’s largest smartphone market.
Canalis claims at 55.8 million units, with Huawei sending nearly 2 million more phones than Samsung (53.7 million) which retained second place by Apple. While countries like the United States – where Samsung and Apple hold pole positions – continue to struggle with Kovid-19 sanctions, China has largely returned to normalcy by allowing Huawei to close the gap.
It is also evident in the figures that Huawei’s smartphone sales have fallen by 5% compared to the same time last year. However, Samsung suffered a 30% drop over Q2 2019, when it allegedly sent more than 70 million phones.
Ben Stanton, a senior analyst at Canalys, says Huawei is “able to take full advantage of the Chinese economic recovery to rule its smartphone business.” “Samsung has a very small presence in China with less than 1% share, and has seen its key markets such as Brazil, India, the United States and Europe, devastated by the outbreak and its subsequent lockdown,” he said.
However, analysts believe that Huawei can retain this top spot when smartphone sales in other countries start recovering.
About three quarters of Huawei’s shipments are from China and its ties to the West declined by 27% in non-China regions. Chinese seller’s phones outside of China no longer offer Google services due to a US ban on trade and could possibly erase the remaining quarter of their business.
On top of this, Apple’s more competitive push through affordable phones such as the iPhone 11 and iPhone SE has also affected Huawei’s share in China. According to Counterpoint Research’s report from last week, in the second quarter of 2020, Apple was the fastest growing smartphone brand in China, as its shipments grew by 32% year-over-year.
Canalys analyst, Moe Jio, believes it will be harder for “Huawei to maintain its lead for longer”. “Its major channel partners in key regions such as Europe, Huawei are increasingly wary of picking up devices, taking fewer models and bringing in new brands to mitigate risk. The strength in China alone will not be enough to keep Huawei on top once the global economy begins to improve. “