Huawei has led smartphone shipments for Q2 2020 despite political pressures and a record slump in the wider market.
According to research by IDC, global smartphone shipments declined 16 percent in Q2 over the previous year. The decline is hardly surprising due to people holding out to upgrade to 5G – and, of course, that whole pandemic thing.
“Smartphones shipments suffered a huge decline in Q2 as they directly correlate to consumer spending, which had a massive reduction due to the global economic crisis and rising unemployment brought on by the widespread lockdowns,” said Nabila Popal, research director with IDC’s Worldwide Mobile Device Trackers.
“This, combined with the closure of retail stores, especially in regions where online shopping is less common, compounded the negative effect on smartphone sales. In addition, consumers spent significantly on other technologies, such as PCs, monitors, and tablets, to facilitate mandatory work from home and distance learning, leaving an even smaller share in the shrinking consumer wallet for smartphones.”
While these factors have affected the whole industry, including setting back 5G rollouts, Huawei has faced additional challenges across its entire business.
US sanctions prevent American companies from providing Huawei with access to software and hardware without explicit government permission. While Huawei can use Android as open-source software, Google can no longer provide access to its services – including the Play Store – on future devices from the Chinese giant.
The sanctions make little difference to Huawei’s business in its home market where access to Google has been banned since 2010. Android devices in China use localised alternatives like Tencent My App and Huawei’s own AppGallery. However, many experts predict the lack of Play Store access will cause a decline in appetite for Huawei’s devices outside of China.
Huawei has been working hard to boost developer uptake of AppGallery to ensure global users can access most of the same apps they can while using devices which can access the Play Store. Huawei’s effort appears to be paying off.
1.6 million global developers are now supporting Huawei’s alternatives to Google’s services as of H1 2020. That number is up 76 percent over the 910,000 figure that Huawei touted last year. 81,000 apps specifically aimed at Western audiences have been developed using Huawei Mobile Services APIs – an increase of 26,000 since February.
On a regional level, Huawei has seen the biggest declines in smartphone shipments outside of China. The Asia/Pacific region (excluding China and Japan) plummeted 31.9 percent year-on-year. Shipments in Western Europe dropped 14.8 percent, while the US declined 12.6 percent. China, where there are cautious signs of a post-COVID market recovery, declined the least by 10.3 percent.
“The smartphone supply chain ground to a halt when the pandemic hit,” commented Ryan Reith, VP of Worldwide Mobile Device Trackers at IDC. “However, recovery, specifically in China, has been strong.”
Huawei has nipped at the heels of historic market leaders Samsung and Apple in the past, but this is the first time the company has taken the lead in smartphone shipments – with 55.8 million sold in Q2. The overall decline in the smartphone market has led to Huawei also enjoying its largest ever marketshare at 20 percent, a growth of almost 10 percent year-on-year.
Samsung took second place for shipments with 54.2 million shifted in Q2, a painful 28.9 percent drop year-on-year. The South Korean giant now has a global marketshare of 19.5 percent.
Apple rounds out the top three by shipping 37.6 million smartphones in Q2 and having a marketshare of 13.5 percent. Cupertino is expected to join its bigger rivals in offering a 5G smartphone later this year; which will likely boost shipments significantly.
Given the challenges it’s faced, Huawei is the clear winner in IDC’s latest research. However, the company will need to keep up the momentum and stem any further declines in markets outside of China – which will be no easy task.
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