We now have confirmation that Huawei has surpassed Apple to become the world’s second-biggest maker of smartphones: Gartner has belated weighed almost a month after IDC did, noting the same milestone.
As I first reported in Apple Delivers a Blockbuster Quarter, But… on August 1, Apple sold about 41 million iPhones in the quarter ending June 30, flat with the year before. But IDC, at the time, provided some bad news, noting that Apple had slipped from second place, by sales, in the smartphone market to China-based Huawei, a firm that basically doesn’t even sell handsets in the United States.
But now that Gartner has weighed in too, we can take a closer look at the results.
Using my normal averaging model, the smartphone industry shipped about 358 million handsets in the second quarter of 2018, roughly flat with the 357.4 million it sold in the same quarter a year ago.
Samsung, as usual, emerged as the number one smartphone manufacturer with 72 million units sold, good for approximately 20 percent marketshare. A year earlier, Samsung had sold about 81.4 million units, for a loss of about 2.8 percentage points overall.
Last year, Apple was the number two maker of smartphones with 41 million units sold, good for 11.5 percent marketshare. As you might expect, it’s marketshare in the most recent quarter was roughly identical.
The problem, for Apple, is that Huawei sales have surged in the same time period. A year ago, the China-based handset maker sold about 37 million units, just below Apple, garnering quarterly marketshare of 10.4 percent. This year, sales jumped to 52 million units. And Huawei now controls 14.5 percent of the market, well ahead of Apple.
And Apple has two other China-based smartphone makers nipping at its heels, as both Xiaomi and OPPO have experienced tremendous year-over-year growth. If these trends continue, Xiaomi, at least, will easily surpass Apple within a year: It saw unit sales grow from over 21 million units in Q2 2017 to over 32 million units in the most recent quarter. And OPPO came is right behind it with 29 million units sold in Q2 and a similar year-over-year growth trajectory.
Is Apple prepared for a number five finish by mid-2019? Its recently-revealed iPhone strategy suggests it is: Apple plans to raise the average selling price of its iPhones and lean more heavily on iPhone-adjacent subscription services. If successful, it can claim, fairly accurately, that marketshare doesn’t matter as much as profits and user engagement.