Despite Qualcomm releasing their much anticipated Snapdragon 888 SOC their market share is still shrinking. As reported by CNBC Qualcomm’s share in China plunged in 2020. Huawei being banned by the U.S. government had a big effect on the overall smartphone market as a whole. Qualcomm is just another victim of the sanctions levied against Huawei.
Huawei's U.S. legal issues led to Qualcomm's slip
Huawei was a big player in the smartphone market before the U.S. sanctions hit. These sanctions made it illegal for U.S. companies to do any business with Huawei. As a result, Qualcomm lost out on a lot of sales to Taiwan’s MediaTek according to CINNO Research.
In 2020 307 million smartphone SOC (system on chips) were shipped in China. That seems like a lot. But that is actually a 20.8% decrease year-on-year according to CINNO Research. SOCs are a critical smartphone component that allows a smartphone to work on a single chip.
Qualcomm suffered an even bigger loss. The company saw a 48.1% year-on-year loss in shipments in China. As a result, Qualcomm’s share in China slipped down to 25.4% in 2020. In 2019 the company’s market share was 37.9%.
As mentioned earlier the inclusion of Huawei on the U.S. Entity List Qualcomm could not deal with Huawei. Huawei is a major Android manufacturer. As a major manufacturer, Huawei must use the best of the best to compete. It is hard to find a company better than Qualcomm when looking for a solid SOC.
As a result of Huawei focusing more on its HiSIlicon chip division Qualcomm’s market share in China slowly slipped throughout 2020. This made HiSilicon number one in China during the first half of 2020. Once the Trump administration ramped up the pressure on Huawei HiSilicon lost that number one spot.
The new pressure from the U.S. kept Huawei from utilizing TSMC to produce its own chips. This caused HiSilicon to drop from a 37% market share to 27.2% in the second half of 2020.
Qualcomm's share in China slipped as MediaTek's grew
So who benefited from all of this chaos? None other than Taiwan’s MediaTek. MediaTek stepped in and began supplying big names like Oppo, Vivo, Xiaomi, and Huawei according to CINNO Research. Each of these companies has a huge presence in China. Huawei is the largest, then Vivo, Oppo, and Xiaomi. All of these companies produce mid-range Android devices with high-end specs.
As a result of this MediaTek reaped all of the benefits. Once Huawei became apart of the U.S. Entity List other Chinese companies began looking for alternatives if they too were cut off from Qualcomm. Xiaomi finds itself in a precarious situation as of late just like Huawei did years ago.
As 5G becomes more prevalent around the world the 5G market is still up for grabs. However, with China being the world’s largest 5G market this could also hurt Qualcomm’s market share. Qualcomm undoubtedly dominated the 4G era, but now HiSIlicon, MediaTek, and Qualcomm are all players in the 5G era.
Qualcomm will be looking to gain back the market share it lost due to the Huawei situation. One focus to help them gain some back is the release of their new 6 and 4 series Snapdragon chips. These new chips are 5G ready and looking to steal business away from MediaTek. Only time will tell if this will happen.