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Innovation

Smartphone sales slump, Huawei's future uncertain: Gartner

Google may push Huawei out of favor with consumers and slow down the vendor's global sales.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer on
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Smartphone sales continue to slide across the globe with a drop of 2.7 percent estimated in the first quarter of 2019.

Research agency Gartner says that in Q1 2019, 373 million units were sold, with Samsung retaining the top spot as the most popular vendor, followed by Huawei and Apple.

The United States and China saw smartphone sales declines of 15.8 percent and 3.2 percent, respectively.

Of the handsets that were sold over Q1 2019, Samsung secured a 19.2 percent market share, Huawei snagged 15.7 percent, and Apple maintained an11.9 percent slice of the pie.

Samsung and Apple's market shares have declined since the first quarter of 2018. Huawei, however, despite recent political upheaval, warnings over national security, and 5G equipment bans enjoyed the strongest growth recorded year-over-year.

Gartner says that the Chinese device manufacturer achieved year-over-year growth of 44.5 percent and smartphone sales totaling 58.4 million units.

Huawei performed well in both Europe and China over Q1 2019. The company claims a loyal local base, is a dominant player in China and caters for both entry and premium smartphone users. 

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While Huawei is bridging the gap and fast catching up to Samsung, Google's recent decision to withdraw Android support for Huawei has the potential to rock the company's current standing in worldwide market share.

Google is planning to block the vendor's access to future Android updates, which may force the firm to create a homebrew operating system in the future for its devices. To consumers used to Android and iOS, this may end up being a reason to drop the brand in their future handset upgrades.

"Unavailability of Google apps and services on Huawei smartphones, if implemented, will upset Huawei's international smartphone business which is almost half of its worldwide phone business," said Anshul Gupta, senior research director at Gartner. "Not the least it brings apprehension among buyers, limiting Huawei's growth in the near term."

While the smartphone market has become concentrated and congested with competition ramping up to secure customer loyalty worldwide, this does not mean the industry has stopped innovating.

Many vendors are now exploring how to change the form factor to appeal to consumers; and in particular, foldable designs are now being developed.

Foldable phones which can transition into tablets for additional screen space and functionality are expected to represent five percent of the premium smartphone market  -- 30 million units -- by 2023, Gartner says.

Samsung and Huawei, among others, are showing off designs at present, but as the hardware problems associated with the Samsung Galaxy Fold reveal, a successful shift to foldable devices is a process which can't be rushed. 

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