Huawei’s future in South Africa without Google services

Huawei has managed to retain a relatively large share of South Africa’s mobile vendor market, despite having lost access to Google Services in May 2019.

The manufacturer’s vice president of its operations consumer business group in South Africa, Akhram Mohamed, said the country has been and will remain a key market for Huawei.

“We have a very healthy share of the smartphone market, and our extended hardware portfolio of PCs, wearables and audio devices continues to show exceptional growth in their respective segments,” Mohamed said.

“We will continue to invest in South Africa and are looking forward to even greater success in future.”

Mohamed explained the company invested heavily in Huawei Mobile Services (HMS) and its app ecosystem following the loss of Google Services, adding that it had placed great emphasis on apps specific to South Africa.

“We have placed great importance on South African-specific apps and content, and as a result, our devices have proven to be very successful in the local market,” he said.

Mohamed said Huawei was not spared when it came to the significant global supply chain issues experienced by manufacturers over the last few years.

“As with other manufacturers and the industry at large, Huawei was affected by the global supply chain issues caused by the pandemic, which impacted sales,” he said.

“However, the market’s recovering once again, and we’ve had a great opening quarter in 2022.”

Huawei’s South African market share

Huawei lost access to Google Services in May 2019 due to an executive order from then-US President Donald Trump.

The order banned the use of telecommunications equipment from foreign companies deemed to be national security risks.

However, bar a slight decline in Huawei’s South African market share following the news, the company’s share rose sharply after that.

Its market share sat at 22.86% in May 2019; by August 2020, it had climbed to almost 30%. However, its market share took a downwards turn shortly afterwards, declining steadily to 22.3% today.

Therefore, the loss of Google Mobile Services and other US mobile industry players took around a year to play out.

This is not unexpected, as the ban only applied to Huawei’s new devices. Smartphones already in the market were not cut off from Google’s platform services for Android.

Notably, its market share is around 6% higher than Apple’s in South Africa, which is likely due to the popularity of its mid-range and lower-tier devices.

The chart below from StatCounter Global Stats tracks Huawei’s mobile vendor market share in South Africa from June 2017 to June 2022. The red data point shows when it lost access to Google services.

Huawei market share in South Africa. Credit: StatCounter Global Stats

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Huawei’s future in South Africa without Google services