Huawei overtakes Apple to become to become the second-largest smartphone maker
The smartphone market has been in decline for six consecutive quarters but Huawei, despite courting controversey are riding well into 2019.
From a geographic standpoint, while the China market will likely be challenged for the remainder of 2019, it was the U.S. market that felt the worst of the downturn in 1Q19. Smartphone volumes declined 15% year over year during the quarter as replacement rates continue to slow in one of the world's largest markets.
Apple iPhone challenges contributed to the exceptionally poor 1Q19 in the U.S., but they were not alone as Samsung, LG, and other top vendors also witnessed declining volumes during the quarter.
Samsung saw volumes drop 8.1% in 1Q19 with shipments of 71.9 million. The results were enough to keep Samsung in the top spot of the market, but Huawei is continuing to close the gap between the two smartphone leaders. Despite challenging earnings in terms of profits, Samsung did say that the recently launched Galaxy S10 series did sell well during the quarter.
With the 5G variant now launched in its home market of Korea and plans to bring this device and other 5G SKUs to other important markets in 2019, it will be equally crucial for Samsung not to lose focus on its mid-tier product strategy to fend off Huawei. This however doesn't mention how the Galaxy Fold will affect things.
Huawei moved its way into a clear number two spot as the only smartphone vendor at the top of the market that saw volumes grow during 1Q19. Impressively, the company had year-over-year growth of 50.3% in 1Q19 with volumes of 59.1 million units and a 19.0% market share. Huawei is now within striking distance of Samsung at the top of the global market.
In China, Huawei continued its positive momentum with a well-rounded portfolio targeting all segments from low to high. Huawei’s high-end models continued to create a strong affiliation for the mid to low-end models, which are supporting the company's overall shipment performance.
Apple had a challenging first quarter as shipments dropped to 36.4 million units representing a staggering 30.2% decline from last year. The iPhone struggled to win over consumers in most major markets as competitors continue to eat away at Apple's market share.
Price cuts in China throughout the quarter along with favorable trade-in deals in many markets were still not enough to encourage consumers to upgrade. Combine this with the fact that most competitors will shortly launch 5G phones and new foldable devices, the iPhone could face a difficult remainder of the year.
Despite the lackluster quarter, Apple's strong installed base along with its recent agreement with Qualcomm will be viewed as the light at the end of the tunnel heading into 2020 for the Cupertino-based giant.