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Pedestrians walk past a Huawei Technologies Co. store in Shenzhen, China, on Wednesday, May 22, 2019. Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei predicts 30 per cent gain in global handset shipments in 2019 despite US trade blacklist

  • Huawei CEO sees 270 million handsets shipped this year compared with 206 million in 2018
  • Huawei’s China smartphone market share increases to 46 per cent, according to Kantar

Huawei Technologies founder and chief executive Ren Zhengfei said he expects the Chinese telecom giant to ship 30 per cent more handsets globally this year despite being blacklisted by the US from doing business with American suppliers.

The Shenzhen-based company’s two smartphone brands, Huawei and Honor, will ship an estimated 270 million handsets globally in 2019, Ren said in an interview with Yahoo Finance published recently. Huawei confirmed the contents of the interview, without elaborating.

The company shipped a total of 206 million handsets globally last year, trailing South Korean technology giant Samsung Electronics and Cupertino, California-based Apple Inc., according to data from IDC, a provider of smartphone industry research.

Ren’s prediction comes as a separate researcher estimated Huawei’s two phone brands now account for 46.1 per cent of the Chinese market in the second quarter, according to figures from Kantar, which said its market share figure was based on a survey of 27,000 respondents in China in both major and lesser-developed cities.

Read the 2019 China Internet Report for more of the top trends in China tech 

With Huawei executives saying in early June they were preparing for a 40 million to 60 million drop in international smartphone shipments this year, according to a Bloomberg report, any gain in overall shipments would have to be made up by a surge in domestic sales.

The Shenzhen-based firm has targeted a significant increase in its share of China’s smartphone and telecoms network equipment markets to help offset potential losses overseas because of that US action, the Post reported in late June, citing people familiar with the matter.

China’s leading smartphone vendor said it crossed the 100 million benchmark in smartphone shipments by the end of May, the fastest pace ever for the company, though a US ban on key technologies announced in mid-May had yet to kick in.

Huawei was put on the US Entity List last month, effectively banning it from doing business with the US and cutting off its access to key US technologies, including semiconductors and software.

Despite of the ban, Huawei still reported year-on-year growth in its major European markets, UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain, in the April-June quarter. Overall sales in the five countries declined by 1.9 per cent on a quarter-to-quarter basis as “negative news” on Huawei started playing out in effect, according to the latest index by Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, without giving out detailed figures.

Huawei’s Mate X, unveiled during the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona in February and scheduled for sale in mid-June, postponed the launch after Samsung’s foldable phone, the Galaxy Fold, was delayed following problems with its displays.