The US sanctions on Huawei are really taking hold now. A new report from Canalys Research shows Huawei dropping all the way down to sixth place for worldwide phone sales in Q4 2020, a dramatic drop from its first-place perch earlier in the year. In Canalys’ current market share table, Huawei has been banished to the “other” category.
Being stuck in “other” means there’s no clear year-over-year drop listed in Canalys’ data, but it does mention Huawei sold 32 million phones in Q2 2020. We can look at last year’s Q4 2019 report, where Huawei sold 56 million units, and come up with a year-over-year drop of 42 percent. Every other Chinese vendor in Canalys’ chart saw big double-digit gains in place of Huawei, with Xiaomi being the big winner at 31 percent year-over-year growth. Huawei is now behind Apple, Samsung, Xiaomi, Oppo, and Vivo.
The US export ban started all the way back in May 2019, and we’re only starting to see the full effects hit Huawei a year and a half later. Huawei sales will probably fall even further going forward. The company announced a major change in November 2020, saying it was selling its “Honor” budget brand to a third party to keep its existing supply chain alive. The buyer for Honor is only listed as “a consortium of over 30 agents and dealers.”
Huawei selling Honor would be a bit like GM selling Chevy. The companies all picked from the same parts bin, used the same software, and were basically the same devices targeted at different markets, with a few modest feature tweaks. Since this was done with an eye toward keeping Huawei’s existing vendors in business, it sounds like there still won’t be any actual parts differences between the two companies, and it’s not clear how they can exist “separately.” For now, though, Huawei is banned and Honor isn’t, so the plan is working!
Canalys’ Huawei data all includes the ominous asterisk that it “includes Honor sales,” and going forward, it presumably won’t. The Honor sub-brand made up 29 percent of Huawei’s sales in 2019, so we are nowhere near rock bottom.