Huawei woes fuel plunge in China smartphone shipments

Soft demand and restrictions on Huawei's supply chain led to a 14.3 percent fall in Q3 smartphone shipments in China.

Nick Wood

November 9, 2020

2 Min Read
pile of smartphones

Soft demand and restrictions on Huawei’s supply chain led to a 14.3 percent fall in Q3 smartphone shipments in China.

That’s according to IDC’s latest figures, which put volume at 84.8 million for the three months to 30 September, compared to 98.9 million in the corresponding quarter last year.

Delayed flagship launches from Huawei and Apple also didn’t help, the research firm said.

“The escalated US trade restrictions in August ultimately impeded Huawei’s momentum in its home market. Nevertheless, the ban did not cool off the enthusiasm of local Huawei loyalists that supported Huawei’s market share to stay above the 40 percent mark,” said Will Wong, research manager, client devices, at IDC Asia-Pacific.

Anyone not living under a rock will know that – pending any last-minute revelations – the US has a new president-elect, who might take a different approach to international trade relations. Or not. Either way, OEMs need to prepare accordingly, advised IDC.

“External factors such as political risk could spur a possible reshaping of the market as well as an opportunity for growth and expansion. Therefore, having a contingency strategy as part of one’s business expansion initiatives will be crucial for vendors and their business partners to deal with any unfavourable changes,” said Xi Wang, research manager, client system research, at IDC China.

Huawei – also known as America’s favourite punching-bag – saw shipments fall 15.5 percent year-on-year to 35.1 million, but it still dwarfed its rivals: second-placed Vivo shipped 15 million – down 16.9 percent – while Oppo ranked third with 14.1 million, down from 16.4 million a year earlier (see table).

The only top-five OEM to show growth was Xiaomi, which shipped 11 million smartphones, up from 9.7 million last year. IDC said the growth was driven by the favourable reception of its Redmi 9 and Redmi K30 line-up.

5G is where all the excitement is, of course, and it seems to have ratcheted up a notch in China in the third quarter. So far this year, the country has shipped 117 million 5G smartphones, with 49.7 million in Q3 alone, IDC said.

There are no surprises as to who is leading this particular slice of the market: Huawei commands a 56.6 percent share, while Oppo and Vivo complete the top three with 16.2 percent and 14. 5 percent respectively.


About the Author(s)

Nick Wood

Nick is a freelancer who has covered the global telecoms industry for more than 15 years. Areas of expertise include operator strategies; M&As; and emerging technologies, among others. As a freelancer, Nick has contributed news and features for many well-known industry publications. Before that, he wrote daily news and regular features as deputy editor of Total Telecom. He has a first-class honours degree in journalism from the University of Westminster.

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