Market research company channels and Counterpoint research have released their global smartphone market share reports for 2019. Both reports state that Huawei is the largest engine that, thanks to annual growth of a whopping 16 to 17 percent in 2019, took second place behind smartphone and ahead of Apple among smartphone providers. Both companies have similar global market shares for 2019: Samsung is around 20 percent, Huawei is 16 percent, Apple is 13 percent and Xiaomi and Oppo are each around eight percent.
Counterpoint attributes Huawei’s success in its home country of China to its success, saying, “This was the result of an aggressive push by Huawei into the Chinese market, where it achieved a nearly 40 percent market share.” According to the company, China accounts for 60 percent of Huawei’s shipments.
Is that “Peak Huawei”?
While it is a great achievement for Huawei to stay in second place, the company’s future in the smartphone market looks pretty bleak at the moment. The Trump Administration’s Huawei export ban means that US companies can no longer do business with Huawei. Huawei should be fine on hardware as the company aggressively cut US components out of its hardware supply line. However, there is a serious problem for software. No U.S. products mean the Google ecosystem is inaccessible to Huawei. Therefore, Huawei phones have no access to Gmail, YouTube, Google Maps, the Google Assistant and the millions of apps in the Play Store. This significantly limits the attractiveness of Huawei phones outside of China.
The export ban occurred in the middle of the year, but only affected new Huawei products at this time. The company’s flagship for the first half of 2019, the Huawei P30 Pro, squeaked out the door in March a few months before the ban. It still sells like that today With Google Apps. Huawei’s first product without Google Apps is the Mate 30 Pro, which only came on the market in mid-September, a few days before the start of the fourth quarter of 2019. If the lack of Google Apps will hurt Huawei’s sales, there wasn’t much time to really see an effect – after all, consumers can still buy a P30 Pro with Google Apps.
For what it’s worth, Canalys has had Huawei’s fourth quarter 2019 as Huawei’s first quarterly drop – seven percent less than in the third quarter – in two years, due to the export ban. Along with the annual increase in the Apple Q4 thanks to the launch of a new iPhone, Huawei fell again to third place during this period.
However, this ban does not affect Huawei’s marketability in its largest market, China, where Google doesn’t do much business. Huawei has had its own software ecosystem in China for years with the “Huawei AppGallery” store, cloud storage, a browser and a theme store. With Google declared banned, only 40 percent of Huawei’s shipments outside of China are actually seriously threatened.
However, Huawei has worked to make its ecosystem viable outside of China. It has promised Invest $ 1.5 billion in its developer program over the next five years hoping to lure (non-U.S.) app developers to its app store. The company too licensed card data by the Dutch company TomTom, presumably to build up a Google Maps competitor. Apple Maps also started with TomTom map data. To put it easily, users found that TomTom data is missing compared to Google Maps. For Apple, the competition with Google Maps means that Google does the same for map data: send a fleet of vehicles with LIDAR equipment throughout the country (and soon the world) suck up data. TomTom’s data alone is far from sufficient, so this is just a start for a mapping solution.
If the U.S. and China don’t reconcile, or if they reconcile and Huawei decides to get a cold turkey from Google apps anyway, it’s hard to imagine that Huawei will be successful outside of China. Huawei recently announced contradictory statement At least the company seems to be considering the idea of whether the Google apps should be used in a scenario in which the export ban was lifted.
The U.S. export ban for Huawei has now been extended three times at 90-day intervals. The next deadline is February 17, 2020.