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HUAWEI beat Apple for the second place in the global smartphone market

It looks like HUAWEI’s plan to become the largest smartphone maker in the world is on track.

Published onSeptember 6, 2017

It looks like Huawei’s plan to become the largest smartphone maker in the world is on track.

Counterpoint Research published its latest global smartphone market analysis, and the biggest takeaway is HUAWEI’s impressive performance that put it ahead of Apple for the first time.

According to Counterpoint, HUAWEI outsold Apple in June, July, and likely in August. The research firm did not share its raw numbers, but looking at the graph below, it looks like HUAWEI’s and Apple’s share in July were around 12 percent. HUAWEI edged out the iPhone’s maker, while Samsung continued its streak at the top with just over 20 percent of sales share.

HUAWEI has previously claimed to have beaten Apple in sales in December 2016, but it’s the first time a large research firm puts HUAWEI ahead of Apple in a research paper.

To be fair to Apple, HUAWEI’s lead seems very small for now, and it could be very brief. Apple is gearing up to launch a major revision of the iPhone, one that is likely to result in a substantial sales spike. Furthermore, summer is usually Apple’s lowest point, as many of its customers wait out for a new iPhone in early fall.

HUAWEI will strike back with the new Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro, which the company’s CEO Richard Yu called “more powerful than the iPhone.” The new devices will be unveiled on October 16 in Germany.

The trends seem to work in HUAWEI’s favor, which has made no secret of its ambition to become the top smartphone seller within four to five years. Apple’s share, while highly cyclical, has been stagnant overall over the past years, while HUAWEI is steadily crawling up.

Counterpoint also released a breakdown of the top ten best-selling smartphones in July 2017 and, surprisingly, HUAWEI is not represented at all. Apple’s iPhones are the undisputed leaders, followed by OPPO’s sleeper hits R11 and A57, and Samsung’s Galaxy S8.

The makeup of the top ten looks like a great representation of the three-way battle currently going on between Apple, Samsung, and Chinese players, a battle that will continue to shape the industry in the next years.

While HUAWEI does very well in terms of overall sales (73 million units in H1 2017), the fact that it lacks a truly popular device remains a weakness. The Mate series is still not acting as an engine for HUAWEI’s lineup, lacking the brand power of the iPhone, Galaxy S line, or even of some OPPO devices.

“While HUAWEI has trimmed its portfolio, it likely needs to further streamline its product range like OPPO and Xiaomi have done – putting more muscle behind fewer products,” said Pavel Naiya, an analyst with Counterpoint.

Huawei’s other big problem is its over-reliance on certain markets – mainly China, but also Europe and Latin America. The company needs to improve its game in India and especially in the United States, where HUAWEI devices are still hard to come by. In order to do so, HUAWEI has reportedly teamed up with AT&T, the second largest US carrier, to put the Mate 10 in the hands of more Americans starting next year.

Now that HUAWEI is on par with Apple in terms of sales, Samsung becomes the next target. Do you think HUAWEI has what it takes to become #1 worldwide?

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