The US and China are involved in a trade war which, as its stands, will see Huawei smartphones lose access to Android.
Android, the smartphone operating system from Google, is the most popular smartphone OS in the world – and Huawei not being able to access Google-backed software and apps will mean that the company may have to launch its own operating system.
A new operating system could see users migrating to competing smartphone brands which run Android, such as Samsung, and hurt Huawei’s smartphone sales.
However, to stop Huawei using Android would be bad news for Google, thanks to the prevalence of Huawei smartphones, and the US trying to stunt the use of the devices means it taking on a tidal wave of support.
The adoption of Huawei smartphones in the US was small to none prior to Huawei being placed on the country’s “entity list” this year, prohibiting certain US companies from doing business with it.
Outside of the US, however, Huawei is a smartphone giant that is only getting stronger.
Gartner’s latest sales figures – detailing Q1 2019 – show that Huawei is the second-biggest smartphone vendor in the world. Samsung maintains top spot on the list.
What is more pertinent, however, is Huawei’s market share growth over the past year.
- In Q1 2018, Huawei had 10.5% of the global market share – selling 40.4 million smartphones to end users.
- Advance a year to Q1 2019, and its market share has grown to 15.2% – with 58.4 million units sold.
At the same time, Apple’s market share moved from 14.1% to 11.9% and Samsung’s share shifted slightly from 20.5% to 19.2%.
In simple terms, a lot more people are buying Huawei smartphones – ostensibly at the expense of other top brands.
The reason for this is that Huawei offers incredibly-powerful devices at good prices.
South African success
The success of Huawei globally – particularly in China and Europe – is mirrored locally, and the company’s smartphones have proved popular in South Africa.
Huawei South Africa CTO Akhram Mohamed told MyBroadband in April that they predict great sales for the P30 smartphone range in the country, following the uptake of its previous devices.
The statement came after huge success for previous the P20 and Mate 20 ranges. Mohamed said Huawei’s global P20 shipments increased by 100% compared to the previous generation, and Mate 20 Pro shipments increased by 170% compared to the Mate 10 Pro.
Huawei also holds a 30.6% market share of the above-R10,000 smartphone sector in South Africa, and 43.8% market share in the local post-paid segment. This makes it the number one post-paid brand in South Africa.
This growth trend was expected to continue with the P30 Lite, P30, and P30 Pro smartphones.
The question now is whether the demand for Huawei smartphones is more powerful than the apprehension of the company potentially moving away from Android, and which direction sales will go if a software switch is implemented.
Huawei’s hardware is great, and the design and performance of its smartphones have been celebrated by the market. A new operating system may prove too big of a step for users to take, however, as they will resist a move away from Android, Google’s apps – such as Chrome, Gmail, and Maps – and the software’s integration with other devices like PCs, smartwatches, Bluetooth headphones, and the like.
Google, though, is unlikely to support Huawei’s ban from using Android, even if it has been ordered to enforce it by the US government.
The popularity of Huawei smartphones means Android and Google apps are in the hands of over 58 million new users in Q1 2019 alone – and Google relies on this distribution for app store revenues, user information for the effective running of services like Maps, and getting people to use its search engine in mobile browsers.
With support from users and Google’s desire to get Android into customers’ hands, Huawei is a smartphone giant to be reckoned with – and it is difficult to see it being stopped in the near future.
This is an opinion piece.