Apple is extremely likely to retake the title of the world's second-largest smartphone maker by both shipments and sales after losing that spot to Huawei in 2018, according to a new report authored by Strategy Analytics and Fubon Research.
The Chinese company that's also the largest manufacturer of telecom equipment on the planet is expected to see its device shipments drop by about a quarter over the course of this year, which would be more than enough to see it get overtaken by Apple, the industry watchers believe. The change is unsurprisingly being directly tied to the Trump administration, i.e. its decision to blacklist Huawei last week, immediately after issuing an executive order that forbade American companies from working with any foreign firm officially labeled a national security threat in the cyberspace.
Washington did end up going back on the decision by some degree, having issued a temporary license to Huawei that allowed it to resume the majority of its operations but the situation is still looking grim for the Shenzen-based firm in the long term. Much like Apple, Samsung is also projected to be a big winner of this entire ordeal; with Huawei crippled, the South Korean manufacturer will be able to strenghten its industry leadership over the course of this year even without resorting to historic investments.
Strategy Analytics and Fubon Research are now predicting Huawei's 2019 shipments may end up being down at least 23-percent, though they aren't predicting a total disaster for the firm, solely due to the sheer size of its domestic handset market which happens to be the largest such space in the world. The fact that the temporary Android license Washington issued to Huawei following last week's ban is set to expire in less than three months means the company will soon have little choice but to either release all of its devices devoid of core apps such as the Play Store, like it's been doing in China for many years now, or go down a different route and pursue an in-house operating system meant to rival Android.
According to recent reports, a new OS is precisely what Huawei is currently developing, having already started doing so some time back, though recent events prompted it to double down on those efforts. Its Android alternative may hence be released as early as this fall, though it's still unclear whether the firm ends up launching it outside of China before 2020.
Huawei shipped around 208 million smartphones in 2018, accounting for nearly a third of the global smartphone market, according to several industry trackers. The newly enacted U.S. ban is likely to see that figure drop to no more than 200 million units in 2019, whereas Fubon Research previously predicted the company will manage some 258 million device shipments over the same period.
Coupled with the unprecedented legal troubles recently sent in the direction of its CFO and founder's daughter Meng Wanzhou, 2019 is certainly shaping up to be a year to forget for Huawei, though it doesn't appear as if the firm will even have the luxury of forgetting about it given how much the Trump administration's crippling ban might affect its business in the long term.