Huawei Technologies, the Chinese smartphone maker, is closing in on Apple Inc. (AAPL), announcing that it shipped 100 million phones as of Tuesday and that it is on track for total shipments of 200 million units this year.
If that goal is met, it would put it within reach of Apple, which is in second place in terms of smartphone shipments behind Samsung Electronics. The South China Morning Post reported that the shipment of 100 million is the fastest pace Huawei has seen in years.
“Previously Huawei reached the 100 million shipments mark on December 22, 2015, October 14, 2016, and September 12, 2017. As it’s only taken just over six months to reach the target this year, we are now aiming for shipments of 200 million units by the end of 2018,” said Huawei Consumer Business Group CEO Rich Yu during a product launch covered in the Post.
Apple, Samsung Facing Smartphone Sales Declines
Huawei’s strong showing on the mobile phone front comes at a time when Apple and Samsung are seeing declines in shipments in China. Apple is also reeling from lackluster sales of its pricey iPhone X. According to market research firm Canalys, smartphone shipments in China during the first quarter of 2018 came in at 91 million units, down 21% on a year-over-year basis. Shipments of 91 million units was a quarterly figure passed in the fourth quarter of 2013, noted the research firm.
Eight of the top 10 smartphone vendors in China saw annual declines in shipments, with Samsung declining to less than half of what it shipped in the first quarter of 2017. Huawei was one of the outliers with shipments increasing 2%. After shipping more than 21 million smartphones in the first three months of the year, Huawei is now in first place with a market share of around 24% in China. Citing data from market research firm IDC, the Post reported that Huawei shipped a total of 39.3 million phones around the globe, which is coming closer to the 52.2 million Apple shipped in the same period. If Huawei continues to execute at this level, it could become a real threat to Apple. (See also: Apple Slips to Fifth in China's Smartphone Market.)
Huawei Growth Comes Amid US Wrath
The growth at Huawei comes at the same time that trade tensions between the U.S. and China are intensifying. Huawei has been a direct target of the intensifying tensions between the two countries, with U.S. lawmakers recently warning telecom carriers to not do business with Huawei. (See also: Best Buy Will No Longer Sell Huawei Phones.)
Rising security concerns prompted the U.S. retail chain Best Buy Co Inc. (BBY) to stop selling Huawei phones and derailed its partnership with AT&T Inc. (T) to carry Huawei's Mate 10 Pro mobile device. The political pressure resulted in the wireless carrier backing out of the deal. It also prompted Verizon Wireless to follow suit, killing its plans to sell Huawei phones.