Huawei on track to ship 200 million handsets in 2018, bringing it within reach of Apple

By Li Tao

Huawei has Apple set firmly within its sights.

Huawei Technologies, China’s leading smartphone brand, is on track to ship 200 million handsets to both domestic and global markets in 2018, bringing it within reach of Apple as the second-largest vendor globally behind Samsung.

The Chinese company shipped 100 million phones as of July 18, the fastest pace of shipments Huawei has seen in years, said mobile segment chief Richard Yu Chengdong on July 18.

“Previously Huawei reached the 100 million shipments mark on Dec 22, 2015, Oct 14, 2016 and Sept 12, 2017. As it’s only taken just over six months to reach the target this year, we are now aiming for shipments of 200 million units by the end of 2018,” Yu said during a new product launch.

Huawei, which calculates its global mobile shipments by combining both Huawei and Honor-branded phones, has maintained fast growth momentum despite headwinds for industry shipments this year. The company shipped a total of 39.3 million phones during the first three months, edging closer to Apple’s 52.2 million over the same period, according to an IDC research note released in May.

Both Huawei and Honor brands have started to make inroads into South-East Asian markets, especially in India, the world’s second largest smartphone market after China. Honor is Huawei’s budget phone brand. Both brands have picked up swiftly in the region in the second quarter, said Zaker Li, a senior industry analyst with IHS Markit.

“Given that the second half is normally the peak season for smartphone sales as major brands will all release their flagship phones, it will not be difficult for Huawei to exceed 200 million units of phone shipments if it has already completed half of that now,” said Li.

Huawei is due to release its next generation, flagship Mate series in the third quarter this year. In 2017, Huawei shipped a total of 153.1 million handsets globally, lagging behind Apple’s 215.8 million, according to earlier IDC research data. South Korea’s Samsung led the market with total shipments of 317.3 million phones last year. Both Samsung and Huawei use the Android operating system.

Huawei briefly overtook Apple to capture second spot in global smartphone shipments for the first time during June and July in 2017, amid a relatively quiet market ahead of a wave of new launches in September and October that year, according to Hong Kong-based Counterpoint. But Cupertino, California-based Apple quickly took back second place after releasing its new iPhone models in September.

Beating Apple to become the second-largest smartphone vendor globally on a consistent basis has long been a goal for Huawei, and a target mobile chief Yu has mentioned many times in recent years.

In June, Huawei unveiled a turbocharged graphics processing technology that it said would put it ahead of other Android-based phones when it comes to mobile gaming. The so-called GPU Turbo technology is able to improve graphics processing efficiency by 60% while reducing energy consumption by 30%, giving it an edge in mobile gaming over competitors including the iPhone X, said the company. — South China Morning Post

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