Apple sales hit record as Huawei takes a dive

Shipments in the fourth quarter hit 90.1-million phones, a record for any quarter, giving it global market share of 23.4%

American customers wait in line outside an Apple store to pick up Apple’s new 5G iPhone 12 in New York
IN DEMAND: American customers wait in line outside an Apple store to pick up Apple’s new 5G iPhone 12 in New York
Image: REUTERS/BRENDAN MCDERMID

Apple’s smartphone shipments jumped 22% to record levels in the fourth quarter, making it the world’s biggest seller, while those for Huawei plunged as US sanctions took effect.

An expanded number of models and a new look for the iPhone 12 line-up, Apple’s first 5G-enabled devices, tapped pent up demand for upgrades, especially in China.

Shipments hit 90.1-million phones, a record for any quarter, giving it global market share of 23.4%, data from research firm IDC showed.

“In China, Apple seized the perfect opportunity to capture Huawei’s market share in the high end, when the latter has essentially not enough supply even though demand for the brand is still there,” Nicole Peng, who tracks China's smartphone market at Canalys, said.

The data comes on the heels of Apple reporting record holiday quarter sales on Wednesday, with overall revenue crossing $100bn (R1 528.8 trillion) for the first time. Revenue in Greater China, which includes Hong Kong and Taiwan, surged 57%.

“We had two of the top three selling smartphones in urban China,” CEO Tim Cook said in an interview, adding that upgraders in particular had set a record in China.

As is often the case in the fourth quarter when it launches new products, Apple took the top spot from Samsung Electronics.

The South Korean firm saw a 6.2% year-on-year increase to 73.9-million devices, giving it market share of 19.1%.

Huawei unsurprisingly, suffered the most pain, with shipments tumbling a record 42.4% to 32.3-million.

The Chinese tech powerhouse has been battered after the previous US administration blacklisted it on national security grounds, preventing overseas companies from supplying it with key parts, including semiconductors.

Huawei is now in early-stage talks to sell its premium smartphone brands P and Mate and sources with direct knowledge of the matter have said it’s a move that could see the company eventually exit from the high-end smartphone-making business. The company has denied such a plan.

According to IDC, Huawei now ranks fifth compared with the number two ranking it had only two quarters earlier.

Research firms Counterpoint and Canalys, which also released data on Thursday, pegged Huawei at number six, marking the first time in years that it has fallen out of the top five in their rankings.

China’s Xiaomi, the number three seller, saw its shipments soar 32%, while shipments for fourth-ranked Oppo climbed 10.7%, according to IDC.


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