Home Telecoms & NBN Huawei passed Apple in June, July 2017, to be No.2 largest smartphone brand

Huawei passed Apple in June, July 2017, to be No.2 largest smartphone brand

Major Chinese technology challenger Huawei was rewarded for its efforts in June and July 2017 by surpassing Apple to take No.2 smartphone sales spot, but can the position be kept in the face of 2017 iPhones?

Counterpoint Research’s latest stats are in, showing Huawei’s “rising momentum” enabling it to “surpass Apple consistently” – or at least, consistently over a two-month period.

The information comes from “Counterpoint’s Market Pulse for July 2017”, with the company’s research undoubtedly on sale to relevant parties at relevant prices, and predicts that August sales are “looking strong for the Chinese vendor”, which suggests “a hat-trick for Huawei could be on the cards".

Commenting on what he bills is a “key competitive development,” Counterpoint’s research director Peter Richardson said, “This is a significant milestone for Huawei, the largest Chinese smartphone brand with a growing global presence. It speaks volumes for this primarily network infrastructure vendor on how far it has grown in the consumer mobile handset space in the last three to four years.

“The global scale Huawei has been able to achieve can be attributed to its consistent investment in R&D and manufacturing, coupled with aggressive marketing and sales channel expansion.

“While this streak could be temporary considering the annual iPhone refresh is just around the corner, it nevertheless underscores the rate at which Huawei has been growing. However, a weak presence in the South Asian, Indian and North American markets limits Huawei’s potential in the near-to mid-term to take a sustainable second place position behind Samsung.

“Huawei is over-dependent on its home market China, where it enjoys the leadership position, and operator-centric markets in Europe, Latin America and Middle East,” Richardson continued.

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When it comes to “future prospects and other findings”, Counterpoint’s associate director Tarun Pathak said: “The growth of Chinese brands is an important trend which no player in the mobile ecosystem can ignore. Chinese brands with their dominant position in key markets such as China, Europe, Asia and Latin America have restricted the growth prospects for leading global brands such as Samsung and Apple.

“Chinese brands are growing swiftly thanks not only to smartphone design, manufacturing capability and rich feature sets, but also by out-smarting and out-spending rivals in sales channels, go-to-market and marketing promotion strategies.”

Pathak added: “Huawei, Oppo, Vivo and Xiaomi have successfully gained access to key supply chain partners, which has allowed them to launch designs with bezel-free, full displays, augmented reality, in-house chipsets and advanced camera features, that have kept them toe-to-toe with rivals. These players have become as equally important as Samsung or Apple to the global supply chain, application developers and distribution channels, as they continue to grow in scale more rapidly than the incumbent market share leaders.”

The Counterpoint commentary continued on the “best-selling models in the month of July”, with the organisation’s senior analyst Pavel Naiya stating: “Apple continued to drive its flagship momentum with iPhone 7 & 7 Plus; still the world’s best-selling models. Oppo has been one of the fastest growing brands globally thanks to the popularity of models including the flagship OPPO R11 and the mid-tier OPPO A57 that captured third and fourth spots respectively.

“These were followed by Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S8, Xiaomi Redmi Note 4X and Samsung Galaxy S8+. Apple’s 32GB refresh of the venerable iPhone 6 enabled it to regain momentum during the month, with popularity across prepaid markets to edge out Samsung’s Galaxy J7.

Naiya added: “While Huawei climbed to be the world’s second largest brand overall, it is surprising to see none of its models breaking into the top ten rankings. This is due to a multiple SKU portfolio that currently lacks a true hero device. While having a diverse portfolio allows Huawei to fight on multiple fronts, it does little to build overall brand recognition; something Huawei badly needs if it is continue to gain share. While Huawei has trimmed its portfolio, it likely needs to further streamline its product range like Oppo and Xiaomi have done – putting more muscle behind fewer products.”

Hmm… it sounds like the kind of policy Apple applies – fewer products and more focus in its smartphone range, with Apple most definitely having absolute hero products every year, and seemingly at every price point.

Perhaps Elvis was right: a little less conversation and a little more action might do some of these Chinese smartphone makers good, as the fight between Chinese and Korean companies squares up to the crunchiest competitor of all – Apple.

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.