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Huawei Threatens Apple in Race for Smartphone Market Domination

Chinese manufacturer Huawei wants to overtake both Apple and Samsung to dominate the entire global smartphone market. That might sound like a lofty goal, but there’s evidence to suggest that the company is steadily moving toward it.

In the June fiscal quarter of 2017, Huawei’s estimated market share rose from 9.4 percent to 10.7 percent, according to data published by research firm Strategy Analytics. By contrast, Apple’s share in the same period dipped from 11.8 to 11.4 percent — meaning that Huawei is quickly catching up to the Cupertino-based company. Of course, Samsung still continues to dominate the top position with a considerable 22.1 percent share globally. That makes Samsung, Apple and Huawei the three largest phone makers worldwide, in that order.

“Huawei is now closing fast on Apple and Apple will be looking nervously over its shoulder in the next few quarters,” Strategy Analytics Director Woody Oh said. “Huawei is outperforming across Asia, Europe and Africa with popular Android models such as the P10 and Mate 9.” Indeed, Huawei shipped an estimated 38.4 million smartphones in the June 2017 quarter — representing about a 20 percent increase from the same time last year.

Apple’s flagship iPhone is still the best-selling smartphone in the U.S. and European markets, but the company’s products are struggling elsewhere — particularly in China. “Apple’s iPhone has grown out of fashion in China and this is placing a cap on its worldwide performance,” said Neil Mawston, Executive Director at Strategy Analytics. Apple has reported $8 billion of revenue in China in the June quarter, about a 10 percent decrease from the year before.

It’s worth noting that those statistics are global estimates, and there’s evidence to suggest that Apple is still outpacing local manufacturers in China. According to a May report by research firm Kantar Worldpanel, Apple posted a “strong period-on-period gain in urban China, rising to a 16.2 percent share from 12.4 percent in the first quarter of 2017.” Apple continues to outpace both Huawei and Oppo in the region with an 8.5 percent smartphone market share.

The global smartphone market has, of course, long been dominated by Samsung and Apple — representing first and second place. Third place has long been tossed around between various vendors like BlackBerry, Nokia, Xiaomi and Huawei since 2011. Recently, the latter two companies have duked it out over the elusive third-place spot, but Huawei has come out on top.

Huawei has been aggressively pursuing Apple’s dominant markets — even releasing an ostensible “flagship killer” in the U.S. last year. However, the Chinese-based phone maker doesn’t have the brand reputation in North America as the company lacks contract agreements with the big four mobile service providers. Due to that, consumers in the U.S. must rely on direct-party sales or third-party retailers to obtain unlocked Huawei smartphones.

Of course, all eyes will be on both Apple and Huawei this fall, when the former company is expected to release its revolutionary new iPhone 8 (or iPhone X / iPhone Edition) flagship. Similarly, the latter company is slated to unveil its upcoming Mate 10 — which it says will be able to go head-to-head with Apple’s premium handset.

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