It was inevitable, even though the company tried to make it appear otherwise. Given global conditions and a legal problem in the United States that predated this pandemic, it was only a matter of time before Huawei’s mobile business took a hit. That time has come this year, at least as far as the first quarter of 2021 is concerned. As the overall smartphone market has grown, Huawei has found itself ousted from the top 5 by its Chinese rivals.
Good news for the smartphone market
Compared to the same first quarter of 2020, the smartphone industry saw 340 million units shipped in the first quarter of this year alone. According to Strategy Analytics, this represents 24% year-over-year growth, a rather impressive jump given the chip shortage plaguing multiple industries.
Among all smartphone manufacturers around the world, Chinese manufacturers have experienced considerable growth, in the order of 35% per year. This has attributed to China’s strong push towards 5G technology, which naturally necessitated upgrading smartphones to 5G compatible models.
Among Chinese brands, however, Huawei left the top 5 for the first time in many years. Xiaomi, OPPO, and Vivo now occupy these coveted places as companies expand their territory outside of China. Vivo was noted as having had the most impressive growth of around 85% when comparing the first quarters of 2020 and 2021.
If Huawei still had around 40% market share in China in the summer of 2020, it is now threatening to disappear into insignificance in its host country. OPPO on the other hand, has managed to stay at the top and in the meantime has taken the lead in the market. Almost five years ago, OPPO was the latest leader in unit sales in the Chinese smartphone market.
Samsung and Apple are still on the top smartphone
As Huawei continues to try to find new sources of revenue and has largely outsourced its smartphone division in the form of the now independent Honor brand, OPPO recently introduced a variety of new devices across all price categories. The new models are very well received, and OPPO can therefore hope to see its sales figures increase.
Samsung and Apple are still in first and second respectively, but their growth is not as remarkable as that of the others. It remains to be seen whether the current chip supply crisis will eventually affect these numbers or if, miraculously, Huawei manages to reclaim some space in the next quarter, once the Huawei P50 series of smartphones have been launched.