Huawei sold a healthy 100 million smartphones in the first five months of 2019, by which time the U.S. blacklisting had taken effect. By comparison, the firm sold 206 million units in all of 2018.
This figure suggests that Huawei was indeed on track to blow past its 2018 unit sales milestone and overtake Samsung to become the number one maker of smartphones by the end of 2019.
We don’t have Q2 2019 smartphone sales figures yet: This quarter doesn’t even end until next week, and research firms like Gartner and IDC typically issue their quarterly sales estimates a month or two after each quarter ends. But in the first quarter of 2019, analysts said that Samsung had sold 80 million units, compared to 59 million for Huawei. And while Samsung’s sales had fallen, Huawei experienced a mammoth 50 percent unit sales rise in that quarter.
Huawei’s rise, alas, will slow dramatically thanks to the U.S. government, which the firm finally admitted to this earlier this week after months of blustery talk. Huawei has said that its 2019 smartphone sales will fall by as much as 25 percent during Q2.
That kind of drop-off would be terrible under any circumstance, but it’s worse than is immediately obvious. The 25 percent fall is compared to smartphone sales from a year ago. But it is happening at a time when Huawei had been otherwise experiencing a massive 50 percent sales jump. So, the sales drop should be far more devastating than just 25 percent.
But what did Huawei really just announce? What is the point of revealing the 100 million figure?
Let’s do some math to find out.
Huawei sold 59 million units in Q1. That amounts to about 20 million units per month.
Given the 100 million figure through May, that means that Huawei sold about 41 million units in April and May. That’s amounts to about—wait for it—20 million units per month.
That’s interesting. But the real impact of the U.S. blacklisting would be felt first in June and then likely get worse after that. Huawei’s coming quarters, in which it would have launched a new generation of its popular Mate handsets, could be far bigger disasters.