IDC Analyst: Huawei Could Overtake Apple This Year in Smartphone Market Share
Huawei has gone from strength to strength in the preceding few years. Although the manufacturer has minimal presence in the US smartphone market, the EMEA and Asian markets have proven to be receptive to Huawei smartphones. The manufacturer also owns an sub-brand, Honor, which sells phones solely online at lower prices. In India, Honor is one of the leading manufacturers in the affordable flagship space, along with OnePlus.
While there was a time when it seemed Huawei was struggling to find a foothold in the early years of Android, that time has passed. Since 2014 they have come on a long way, to the point where IDC data shows that Huawei sold 38.5 million smartphones in Q2 2017. This results in Huawei having captured 11.3% of worldwide smartphone market share, closely behind Apple which had 12% market share and sold 41 million smartphones in the same period.
Now, it seems Apple is in danger of being demoted to third place. In a TV interview with CNBC last week, Francisco Jeronimo, research director for European mobile devices at IDC, said that Huawei could probably overtake Apple in smartphone market share. This event could happen either later this year or next year, according to the IDC research director.
He went on to say that this speed of growth was a huge worry for Samsung, because of Huawei’s intended goal to become number one in the smartphone market. Due to Huawei’s good performance in the unit sales of flagship smartphones, monetary value is increasing because of increasing flagship prices.
According to Mr. Jeronimo, one reason why Huawei can challenge Samsung and Apple is because of its focus on AI. The SoC in the newly announced Mate 10, the Kirin 970, has a dedicated NPU (Neural Processing Unit), which is the first of its kind in the Android world and is said to be twice as fast as compared to Apple’s Neural Engine in the A11 SoC. If new use cases which can benefit from having on-device AI are found, then Huawei is in an ideal position to benefit. The manufacturer already enjoys vertical integration of its processing components; developments in AI applications could lead to a long-term competitive edge in performance.
The speed of growth is actually higher than even what Huawei intended, as the manufacturer said in February 2016 that it intended to become the second largest smartphone manufacturer in terms of smartphone market share within three years, and aimed to be the largest smartphone manufacturer within five years.
The reasons for Huawei’s growth are well-known to smartphone enthusiasts. Huawei has, like Samsung and unlike Apple, launched smartphones within a wide range of prices, partially thanks to the use of the online Honor brand. The Mate series and the flagship P series are finding success in European as well as Chinese markets, while Honor flagships like the Honor 8 Pro are selling well in India.