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Huawei and Apple struggle, while Samsung extends smartphone lead

Demand for smartphones has slowed down dramatically – Apple is struggling to shift iPhones, while the US ban has affected Huawei

The latest shipment data from market analysts has highlighted concerns over Huawei and how Apple has struggled to differentiate its latest iPhone family.

The only real winner, at least according to Canalys, has been Samsung, where growth has been driven by sales of its mid-market smartphone devices.

Canalys said Samsung shipped 76.9 million units in second quarter 2019, up 6% annually, and 7% sequentially. The new devices, from the A10 to the A80, accounted for more than 50% of Samsung’s shipments in the second quarter, and are expected to drive volume growth for Samsung for the rest of the year, Canalys noted.

“Samsung benefited in markets such as Europe in May and June as arch-rival Huawei struggled to reassert its position,” said Canalys research director, Rushabh Doshi.

“Its portfolio refresh was fortunately timed, as it was able to capitalise on the new devices to win back business from operators and retailers in Europe and Asia. Samsung has been slow to respond to the threat from Huawei, Oppo, Vivo and Xiaomi, but it is now primed to win back market share and give the Chinese vendors a run for their money.”

Huawei boosted its shipments by 8%, but the analyst firm said that the uncertainty over Huawei’s ability to trade in the US has had a negative impact on sales of its smartphones.

Huawei's mobile phone growth was much lower than in previous quarters. While it shipped 37.3 million units in China, Canalys said the Chinese company was heavily affected overseas by its addition to the US Entity List, which has risked its trading relationships with US companies. This led to a 17% fall in its overseas smartphone shipments to 21.4 million units.

Canalys senior analyst, Ben Stanton, said: “Huawei’s major channel partners have been spooked. Mobile operators decide which smartphones to range at least six months in advance. Many have been forced to explore contingency strategies in case they have to replace Huawei devices in their portfolios by the end of 2019.”

Canalys also reported that the newest iPhone XR, XS and XS Max are not differentiated enough to prompt its expanding installed base of customers to upgrade. According to Canalys, the recent price cuts and an increased rate of trade-in has not been enough to offset the decline.

However, Canalys said the iPhone XR was a strong performer, accounting for 37.5% of its shipments in May. Apple also benefited as some markets, such as the US and Italy, returned to normal after sluggish shipments in the first quarter.

According to Strategy Analytics’ figures, iPhone shipments declined 8%. Woody Oh, director at Strategy Analytics, described the decline as the worst performer among the world’s big-five smartphone players.

“Apple is stabilising in China due to price adjustments and buoyant trade-ins, but other major markets such as India and Europe remain challenging for the expensive iPhone,” said Oh.

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