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Huawei, Samsung dominate global 5G device market

Samsung and Huawei dominate the 5G device market in 2019, but analyst warns that expected and necessary competition could be curtailed by the current coronavirus outbreak

Boosted by the lack of a rival device from Apple, Asian consumer electronics giants Samsung and Huawei have rushed to dominate the nascent 5G smartphone market, according to research from Strategy Analytics.

While showing the iron grip that the Korean and Chinese suppliers have on the market, the Huawei & Samsung dominate 5G smartphone market in 2019 report also reveals a 5G device arena that is populated by few suppliers, stunting global – if not local and regional – competition.

The study found that global 5G smartphone shipments hit 19 million units in 2019, with demand for 5G smartphones higher than expected. Fierce supplier competition in China and heavy carrier subsidies across South Korea have been the main drivers of 5G demand. Other regions, such as the US and Europe, are lagging behind Asia, but Strategy Analytics expects them to close the gap later this year.

The report showed that Huawei was the leading supplier, shipping 6.9 million 5G smartphones worldwide in 2019, capturing a 37% market share. Almost all of Huawei’s 5G smartphones were shipped in China, where recent US sanctions have made relatively less impact. Popular 5G models for Huawei include the Mate 20 X 5G and Mate 30 Pro 5G.

Huawei’s Korean arch-rival Samsung was the second-highest supplier, shipping 6.7 million 5G smartphones worldwide during 2019, for a 36% piece of the business. The research noted that Samsung’s 5G smartphone shipments were truly international. Popular selling 5G models for Samsung includes the Note 10 5G and S10 5G.

Some way back from the big two and bringing up third and fourth position in the survey were China’s Vivo and Xiaomi, with 11% and 6% of the market respectively. Vivo shipped 2.0 million 5G smartphones worldwide in 2019, with a portfolio heavily focused on China, which remains its primary market. Xiaomi shipped 1.2 million 5G smartphones worldwide in 2019, and has been quietly making headway in Western Europe, with popular models such as the Mi Mix 3 5G, and teaming up with carriers from Switzerland, the UK and elsewhere.

Focusing efforts on North America and South Korea, and with current limited presence in the rest of the world, LG landed at number five with 900,000 worldwide 5G smartphone shipments in 2019, to take 5% of the market.

Looking forward to the next 12 months, the report predicted that upcoming 5G models from Apple and other big brands mean 5G will be the hottest part of the worldwide smartphone market this year.

However, Strategy Analytics cautioned that the current coronavirus outbreak is currently restricting trade in some parts of China and this may well cause a slowdown in 5G supply or demand across Asia or worldwide during the first half of 2020. 

When asked about the firm’s reliance on China as a manufacturing site, Apple CEO Tim Cook said the company was keeping a close watch on the coronavirus and revealed that the company had “some suppliers” in the Wuhan area, where the virus was first identified. He said these represent Apple’s “ultimate sources”.

“We’re obviously working on mitigation plans to make up any expected production loss,” he added.

With all of this in mind, Strategy Analytics issued the stark warning that industry players should be prepared for bumpy 5G sales in some markets.

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