Huawei Outpaced Rivals In Q1 2019 Despite Industry-Wide Slowdown

Now that the first quarter of 2019 is behind us, analytics have firms have started weighing in on the performance of the smartphone industry bigwigs. Per the research firm IDC, smartphone shipments declined 6.6 percent year on year in Q1 2019. The company says that this is the sixth consecutive quarter of slowdown and the results are twice as worse when compared to Q1 2018. In terms of volume, IDC says that 310.8 handsets were shipped in the first quarter and the results might be telling of 2019 trends.

The analytics company Strategy Analytics seems a little more hopeful though, reporting a year on year decline of 4 percent and shipment volume of 330 million units for Q1 2019. The firm believes that worldwide smartphone shipments have begun to stabilize and expects the performance to improve in the coming months.

While there are some discrepancies between the estimates of the two firms, the key takeaways are largely the same. Despite earning the silver spot, Huawei has emerged as a clear winner, as the company managed to grow its shipment by a spectacular 50.3 percent. This isn't the first time the Chinese company has overtaken Apple but the lead is even greater this time, with the manufacturer earning a global market share of 19 percent, its highest ever. The success can be chalked up to a clever strategy of targeting all segments of the market.

Although Samsung continued to retain the top spot, it saw its shipments decrease by 8.1 percent. Even though the company’s market share remained relatively unchanged at around 23 percent when compared to last year, it definitely must not be sitting pretty as at this rate, Huawei might soon surpass the South Korean giant. IDC says that the tech juggernaut needs to ramp up its efforts in the mid-tier segment and the company is clearly following that strategy already, but it appears that more would have to be done to increase market share.

Apple also saw a 30.2 percent decline in its quarterly shipments when compared to last year. With no 5G and foldable device on the roadmap for the year, the situation is unlikely to change with the 2019 lineup, but IDC believes that things might start looking up for the Cupertino-based firm in 2020.

Coming in at the fourth spot is Xiaomi, but the company wasn’t immune to the global slowdown and saw a 10.2 percent year-on-year decline in Q1 2019. OPPO and Vivo both clenched the fifth spot, with the later bucking the trend like Huawei by managing to increase its market share by 24 percent when compared to Q1 2018.

IDC also revealed that the U.S. smartphone market experienced a decline of 15 percent in Q1 2019 when compared to the same period last year, affecting not only Apple but also other top players such as Samsung and LG. The firm believes that this can in part be blamed on longer replacement cycles and the fact that some consumers might be sitting out current releases because of the impending arrival of 5G handsets. Although a couple of 5G phones are available in the market, the next generation of smartphone networks have just started to roll out, so having a 5G phone right now doesn’t make much sense.

Overall, it appears that companies like Apple and Samsung can no longer bank on their brand names to drive growth. A mix of innovation and value for money will apparently do the trick this year and Chinese brands seem to have recognized this already.

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Anam Hamid

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I have been writing on tech since 2017 and what started as a side gig has now turned into a profession that I am immensely passionate about. A computer science graduate by education, I also enjoy reading and baking.