It was really inevitable, no matter how much the company tried to spin the narrative. Given global conditions and a legal predicament in the US that predated this pandemic, it was only a matter of time before Huawei’s mobile business took a big hit. That time has seemingly come this year, at least as far as the first quarter of 2021 is concerned. While the entire smartphone market grew, Huawei found itself pushed out of the top 5 by its own fellow Chinese rivals.
First, the good news. Compared to the same first quarter of 2020, the smartphone industry saw 340 million units shipped in the first quarter of this year alone. According to Strategy Analytics, that’s 24% growth year-on-year, a rather impressive jump considering the chip shortage that is plaguing multiple industries.
Among the world’s smartphone makers, it was Chinese vendors that saw quite a lot of growth, around 35% YoY. That was attributed to China’s strong push of 5G technology, which naturally required upgrading phones to 5G-compatible models.
Of the Chinese brands, however, Huawei saw itself out of the top 5 for the first time in many years. Xiaomi, OPPO, and Vivo now occupy those coveted spots as the companies expand their territory outside of China. Vivo was noted to have had the most impressive growth spurt of 85% when comparing the first quarters of 2020 and 2021.
Samsung and Apple still had their spots at number one and number two, respectively, but theirs weren’t as remarkable as the others. It remains to be seen if the ongoing chip supply crisis will eventually affect these figures or if, by some miracle, Huawei manages to reclaim a bit of space in the next quarter once the Huawei P50 series has launched.