Huawei dominates China’s smartphone market but impact of coronavirus looms
Huawei’s shipments jumped by more than a third in 2019, but China’s coronavirus outbreak could have a negative effect on smartphone sales
Huawei smartphones were a big winner in China last year, with shipments growing 35.5% year-over-year at Apple’s expense. But analysts warn that the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak gripping the country will have an impact in the year ahead.
Sales picked up for Apple at the end of the year thanks to the lower-priced iPhone 11, allowing the company to beat out Xiaomi for the fourth quarter. But for the year as a whole, Chinese firms took up the top four spots, with Oppo, Vivo and Xiaomi all having double-digit market share even while suffering declining growth.
The outbreak of the deadly coronavirus in Wuhan is also bad news for smartphone makers this year, according to the report. The smartphone market has already been seeing declining shipments, which was expected to slow in 2020 thanks to the deployment of 5G networks, according to Canalys vice president of mobility Nicole Peng. Shipments in the fourth quarter were already the lowest since the first quarter of 2013, and now the coronavirus outbreak in the country could further impact the market.
“Vendors need to take this outbreak much more seriously and start to think about how to react in multiple scenarios,” Peng said. Since the start of the outbreak in Wuhan in December, the government’s strict measures have resulted in factory workers staying at home, which could affect manufacturing. Retail will also be affected as more people stay home, Peng pointed out.
Last year, 8.9 million 5G smartphones were shipped in China, with Huawei making up 78% of the market. The smartphone maker had a few advantages at home, including a trade war that won the brand popular support in China even as it hurt the company’s smartphone operations overseas. Huawei also produces its own 5G chipsets. Vivo is the second-largest seller of 5G phones in the country, shipping 1.2 million units in 2019.