Huawei’s South African business is still booming, with the company positioned to take on Samsung in total smartphone market share.
Speaking at a media event in Johannesburg, Huawei CTO Akhram Mohamed said that Huawei has continued to see accelerated growth, both in South African and its global market.
The company shipped 24% more units globally in the first half of 2019 compared to the same period last year, with a large proportion of its sales occurring outside of China.
In South Africa, Huawei’s market share is now 37.9% for smartphones which are priced at $100 or above.
Additionally, the company’s value share has improved from 18.2% in 2017 to 34.5% in the second quarter of 2019, while Samsung’s value share has fallen from 48.9% to 40.8% over the same period.
Mohamed said that Huawei was still confident it could overtake Samsung going forward, as the company has quickly shrugged off any lost sales due to escalating tensions between the United States and China.
In May 2019, Huawei was placed on the US Entity List, which prevented US companies from conducting business with Huawei.
This had severe implications for the future of Huawei’s smartphone business, as the company relies heavily on Google’s Android operating system as well as various platforms and services from other US-based companies.
Before the ban was eventually lifted, Huawei South Africa released a statement to local smartphone owners saying that they would not be affected by the trade ban and thanking them for their dedication to the brand.
Mohamed said that Huawei’s engagement with its customer base in South Africa led directly to the recovery of its sales, placing it back on the path to overtake Samsung as the country’s biggest smartphone brand.
“We are way ahead of Apple and not far behind from Samsung,” Mohamed said. “This shows us that our products are loved and trusted in the local market.”
He said that the dip in sales due to the US ban lasted only one month before Huawei’s smartphone volumes recovered.
“It wasn’t that we just recovered, we recovered to the same kind of levels,” Mohamed said. “Right now, our smartphones are being sold in the stores as if nothing happened.”
Despite the global conflict, Huawei has continued to build a strong presence in South Africa, launching new devices in response to Samsung’s recently-launched Galaxy A Series lineup.
The company’s Y9 Prime 2019 is aimed directly at the mid-range market, offering flagship features such as a pop-up front-facing camera, bezel-less display and triple-lens rear camera array.
Huawei is also upgrading its devices to EMUI 10 – the latest version of its mobile operating system based on Android 10.
The company also recently unveiled its new Harmony OS software, which it said could be launched immediately for its smartphones should it be blocked from the Android ecosystem.
Harmony OS is not designed as an Android replacement; however, the software is an ambitious project which aims to deliver a ubiquitous, distributed platform for all smart devices.
Now that the storm of volatile decisions from the US government regarding Huawei has somewhat abated, the company is back on track in South Africa and its consumer confidence remains higher than ever.