Huawei Leading Chinese Surge in Smartphone Charts

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Posted 4 years ago

After both Samsung and Apple releasing their Q4 2012 financials this week, it is now mobile analyst IDC’s turn to get in on the action by release their own results for the busy quarter.

Of course, the top two smartphone vendors will come as no surprise to anyone; Samsung and Apple are head and shoulders above anyone else at the moment. In fact, with a record 63.7 million units shipped during the quarter, Samsung makes even Apple look average, who themselves shipped a record 47.8 million iPhones. The 29% and 21.8% percent market share that the two big players hold is impressive, but this is not where the interesting story is in the IDC report; that comes from the company in third place – Huawei.

Many people would have expected a name such as Sony, LG, Nokia, or even HTC to be in list behind the top two, but only Sony actually made it into the top five smartphone vendors for Q4 2012. With 10.8 million units shipped and 4.9%, Huawei has surged up the market and they are followed by Chinese-rivals ZTE who make up the top five (Sony is fourth in the list) with 9.5 million smartphones shipped and a market share of 4.3% – just 0.1% behind Sony. The leading Chinese companies also enjoyed success in total mobile phone shipments during the quarter, placing fourth of fifth in the list behind Samsung, Nokia and Apple. ZTE shipped 17.6 million phones during Q4 2012 giving them a market share of 3.6%, while Huawei shipped 15.8 million meaning 3.3% of the market belongs to them.

Ramon Llamas, a research manager at IDC’s Mobile Phone team attributed the growth of Huawei and ZTE to their recent focus on highly spec’d devices, saying:

The fact that Huawei and ZTE now find themselves among the top 5 smartphone vendors marks a significant shift for the global market. Both companies have grown volumes by focusing on the mass market, but in recent quarters they have turned their attention toward higher-end devices. In addition, both companies have pushed the envelope in terms of industrial design with larger displays and smaller form factors, as well as innovative applications and experiences.”

Huawei has managed to grow from a top 10 vendor into a top five one in a very short space of time, and IDC believes this is down to the company’s simple and inexpensive handsets at the top of the market, particularly the Ascend range:

Along the way, the company has demonstrated its innovative skills, having released the world’s thinnest (6.68 mm) smartphone last year, the Ascend P1, and this year it announced the upcoming Ascend Mate, the first smartphone with a 6.1-inch display. At the same time, Huawei has brought its own software innovations, including Magic Touch, Guiding Wizard, Smart Reading, and Floating Windows.”

ZTE’s efforts in the global smartphone market have also been down to the company’s ability to produce lower-cost smartphones according to IDC, although, these have been very much focused on emerging markets.

The growth of both Huawei and ZTE is made even more impressive given the struggles of both companies in the U.S. after being labeled as a national security threat with links to the Chinese government. However, bottom lines are clearly unaffected (as of now anyway), with carriers and consumers more concerned about the quality of the smartphones being produced by the Chinese.

If the growth of Huawei and ZTE continues, we may well be looking at the companies that can really challenge the dominance of Samsung and Apple in the long term, although, it’s fair to say the big boys aren’t likely to be feeling threatened just yet.

– Anthony Carter

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