Huawei Q4 smartphone shipments drop 41% as US sanctions bite


Customers in an experience store licensed by Huawei purchase devices on October 30, 2020 in Suzhou, China.

Fred Lee | Getty Images News | Getty Images

GUANGZHOU, China – Huawei’s smartphone shipments have continued to decline as a result of U.S. sanctions, overthrowing what was once the world’s leading supplier among competitors like Apple.

The Chinese tech giant shipped 33 million smartphones worldwide in the fourth quarter of 2020. This corresponds to a decrease of 41% compared to the previous year and a market share of 8%. This comes from data that Counterpoint Research released on Thursday.

This made Huawei the sixth largest smartphone manufacturer in the December quarter, behind Chinese competitors such as Oppo and Vivo and far behind Apple and Samsung.

Data released by Canalys on Thursday showed that Huawei shipped 32 million smartphones in the fourth quarter, a decrease of nearly 43% year over year. It’s the first time in six years that Huawei has slipped out of the top 5, Canalys said.

“Huawei has declined dramatically in most markets as a result of US sanctions,” said Amber Liu, an analyst at Canalys Research, in a report.

The latest numbers mean a sharp drop for Huawei from Q2 2020 when it was number 1 in the world by shipments.

For all of 2020, Huawei was the third largest smartphone company, according to the research company. Huawei responded to the latest numbers and took third place.

“Huawei has always been committed to innovating and creating value for consumers with better products. Over the past year, our smartphone business has been robust, and tablet, PC and wearable have grown significantly. We remain confident for the future, “the company said in a statement.

Huawei’s problems stem from Apple shipping 90.1 million phones in the fourth quarter. According to IDC, this is the largest number ever shipped by any vendor in the history of smartphones. Apple also had a record quarter of sales in China.

Indeed, US sanctions are weighing on Huawei’s smartphone business. In 2019, Huawei was placed on a US blacklist called the Entity List, which prevented American companies from exporting key components and software to the company.

The biggest effect of this was to cut Huawei off from Google’s Android operating system. That’s not a big deal in China, where Google services like Gmail and Search are blocked. However, in international markets, this has been key to Huawei’s growth as consumers are used to these services.