Can Huawei Beat Samsung?

So about 4 years ago Huawei announced a plan to beat Samsung and Apple by the year 2021 to become the world’s biggest smartphone maker.They partly did it, I mean in 2018 they beat Apple in sales and became the second-biggest smartphone maker. Quickly thereafter they announced a new plan where they said they would overtake Samsung by the year 2020 for the coveted number one spot. Well, a couple of years later it looks like Huawei did exactly what they said they would do. To everyone’s surprise, Huawei overtook Samsung for the very first time in the month of April, a feat that was considered impossible with the ban in effect.

According to Counterpoint Research, Huawei accounted for a 21% market share in April while Samsung’s market share was about 17%. Overall, 69.37 million smartphones were shipped across the globe in April. That represents a massive year-on-year decrease of 41%. Now, on paper, this looks impressive that Huawei has managed to achieve a feat that no one thought they would ever do it but when you consider why this happened then it doesn’t sound that appealing. You see, markets like India, Europe, North America were in complete lockdown in the month of April because of the global pandemic.

 These three regions are the biggest markets for Samsung, due to strict lockdown rules Samsung was able to sell absolutely zero smartphones in many of these key markets, which is also why sales of Samsung’s Galaxy S20 series have remained unconventionally low. Huawei on the other hand didn’t suffer from lockdown in April because over 95% of their smartphones are sold in China. China as you know is the first country to go into lockdown which means by march the economy of China was already recovering and by April it was back in full force. This favored Huawei as sales of Samsung smartphones have declined drastically in other markets as purchasing smartphones wasn’t a priority for people in those regions in the month of April. Basically the time when the demand for Samsung phones decreased due to the lockdown, Huawei’s phones were widely been available for users to buy in China.

However, the international markets are normalizing which means Samsung’s shipments will bounce back in the coming months, which also means Huawei’s success is not guaranteed in the long run and may not continue in the next month or in the next quarter. By the way, Even with the ban intact, Huawei has been selling hundreds of millions of smartphones, but the majority of which is attributed to the strong sentiment among the Chinese consumers, who had given preference to Huawei products after the US ban. Because China is a huge smartphone market, success there usually helps vendors in the global market. But here’s the thing, that patriotic sentiment is only going to last for long, and once Huawei loses that factor, it’s only downhill from there.

This year will be an uncertain sales adventure for all the top manufacturers, and it’s difficult to predict where they will end up, but if I were to say it’s more than unlikely for Huawei to replicate what they did in April as Samsung’s key markets are beginning to recover and hence Samsung’s shipments are expected to recover too.