Huawei overtook Apple in June and July smartphone sales, but high-profile launches this month will prove decisive

Major rival Apple launches upgraded version of the current iPhone 7 and the widely anticipated tenth anniversary edition, the iPhone 8, on September 12

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 06 September, 2017, 1:38pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 06 September, 2017, 10:54pm

Huawei overtook Apple to capture second spot for global smartphone shipments for the first time, during June and July and is looking good for August too, amid a relatively quiet marketplace ahead of a wave of new launches in September and October, according to a research note from Hong Kong-based Counterpoint on Wednesday.

The Shenzhen-based handset maker registered strong June and July sales, moving ahead of its major competitor, Apple’s iPhone.

With August sales also looking good for the Chinese vendor, the research agency expects the monthly lead to have continued last month.

Without giving specific sales data for either company for the previous three months, Counterpoint’s research director Peter Richardson said Huawei’s first successful toppling of Apple represents a significant milestone for China’s largest smartphone brand, and “speaks volumes of how far this primarily network infrastructure vendor has grown in the consumer mobile handset space in the last three to four years”.

Despite the caveat, however, that the leading streak could be temporary, given Apple is poised to release its new generation iPhone 8 next week, Richardson said it nevertheless underscores the rate at which Huawei has been growing, driven by consistent investment in research and development and manufacturing, coupled with aggressive marketing and sales channel expansion.

The latest figures issued by US-based researcher International Data Corporation (IDC), meanwhile, suggest global smartphone sales dropped 1.3 per cent to 341.6 million during the second quarter, but that all of the top five vendors – Samsung, Apple, Huawei, Oppo, and Xiaomi – gained market shares in the period.

A weak presence in the South Asian, Indian and North American markets limits Huawei’s potential in the near-to midterm to maintain second place behind Samsung
Peter Richardson, research director at Hong Kong-based Counterpoint

During the last quarter, it said Apple and Huawei held 12.0 per cent and 11.3 per cent global market shares, respectively, still well shy of global leader Samsung’s 23.3 per cent, and compared with Chinese maker Oppo’s 8.1 per cent.

“However, a weak presence in the South Asian, Indian and North American markets limits Huawei’s potential in the near-to midterm to maintain second place behind Samsung,” Richardson added.

“It’s still over-dependent on its home market, where it enjoys a clear leadership, and in operator-centric markets of Europe, Latin America and the Middle East.”

Apple has already confirmed its launch of an upgraded version of the current iPhone 7 and a widely anticipated tenth anniversary edition, or the iPhone 8, on September 12.

Unlike the US technology giant’s traditional practise of releasing its new flagship smartphone handsets once a year, in September, Huawei releases upgrades of its main lines throughout the year, including its P series, Mate series, and the budget Nova smartphones.

Huawei also owns a subsidiary smartphone brand, Honor, whose sales are taken into account in the parent company’s sales figures.

Noting that July and August will be slow shipment months for Apple, in anticipation of the September unveiling, IDC’s senior market analyst Tay Xiaohan said most of Huawei’s shipments in the current quarter, especially in China, were driven by the Honor brand, which is proving a huge success.

“Huawei’s flagship self-branded phones – the P10 and P10 Plus – can expect a strong third quarter,” she added, although she declined to comment on the company’s performance in June and July as IDC does not reveal individual monthly numbers.