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Explained: How, despite backlash, Chinese tech firm Huawei emerged as top smartphone maker

According to Counterpoint Research, Huawei was able to attain a leadership position because of a unique market scenario created by COVID19.

Written by Pranav Mukul | New Delhi | Updated: August 3, 2020 12:40:41 am
During the quarter, Huawei shipped 54.8 million smartphones, compared with Samsung’s 54.2 million.

Despite a global backlash on its products — both backend network equipment and consumer technology devices — Chinese major Huawei emerged as the top smartphone maker in terms of global device shipments during the April-June quarter pipping South Korean conglomerate Samsung to take the number 1 spot, according to data released by Counterpoint Research.

What were the numbers for April-June?

During the quarter, Huawei shipped 54.8 million smartphones, compared with Samsung’s 54.2 million. US-based Apple was at the third position with 37.5 million devices shipped during the quarter, followed by Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi at 26.5 million devices. During the April-June quarter last year, Huawei had shipped 56.6 million smartphones but represented only a 16% market share, which this year came at par with Samsung with both companies enjoying 20% share.

Also Explained | The new technology cold war

How did Huawei manage to grab the top spot?

According to Counterpoint Research, Huawei was able to attain a leadership position because of a unique market scenario created by COVID19. China, Huawei’s largest market, is now recovering from the pandemic compared to other markets like Europe, Latin America, and North America. Smartphone shipments in China declined 17% year-on-year during the quarter, a more modest decline than the rest of the world that declined 28% on the year. Huawei continued its push in China, benefiting from the recovery. It now holds almost half (47%) the market in China, and this alone contributes to 71% of Huawei’s shipments compared to 62% a year ago. However, in markets outside China, its shipments declined 29% YoY. Huawei did well in some Eastern European markets like Russia and Ukraine. However, the research firm also pointed out that as markets outside China recover, it will be difficult for Huawei to maintain this lead in the coming quarters.

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How is the India smartphone market shaped?

The April-June quarter saw Chinese firm Xiaomi strengthen its position as the top smartphone seller in India with a 29% market share during the three-month period, compared with a 28% share same period last year. With the exception of Samsung, which had the second-highest market share, all companies in the top five were Chinese. India’s smartphone shipments declined by 51% YoY to just over 18 million units during the quarter. The nationwide lockdown imposed by the Indian government to contain the COVID-19 spread had resulted in zero shipments during April. In June, however, Indian smartphone shipments registered a mild decline of 0.3% year-on-year, caused by the pent-up demand as well as a push from brands. Due to concerns over potential COVID-19 infection, consumers prefer contactless purchasing and online channels. Smartphone brands are also recognising this trend by pushing more inventory to online channels.

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