Despite facing the US sanctions, Huawei with 16 percent market share surpassed Apple to become the second-largest smartphone brand globally -- after Samsung -- in the calendar year 2019, a new report said on Thursday.
This was the result of an aggressive push from Huawei in the Chinese market, where it achieved almost 40 percent market share, said the report. China accounted for over 60 percent of Huawei's total shipments.
Overall, the global smartphone market declined 1 percent (year-on-year) with 1.48 billion smartphones being shipped in 2019 -- first time that the smartphone market has declined for two consecutive years. However, the decline was slower than in 2018 (4 percent YoY).
The top five brands captured 66 percent of the market in 2019, compared to 65 percent in 2018 and 62 percent in 2017, said the report.
2019 brought both innovations, 5G, folding displays, but also an uncertain trade and political climate.
"There have been growing tensions among several countries that have impacted the smartphone market. For example, the US pressure on Huawei, and tensions between Japan-Korea that led to uncertainties in the memory market," said Varun Mishra, Research Analyst at Counterpoint Research.
Supply chains have been upset, causing various companies to rethink their strategies and reduce dependence on single markets.
"2020 will likely see efforts to further diversify investments across geographies to mitigate risks. The current coronavirus outbreak in China is the latest issue to threaten supply chains," he added.
In the fourth quarter of 2019, the smartphone market actually grew 3 percent YoY, indicating signs of a recovery which is expected in 2020.
Apple gained the top spot in the Q4 global smartphone market with 18 percent market share, followed by Samsung at 17 percent and Huawei at 14 percent.
Apple's success story was driven by the iPhone 11 series beating expectations. iPhone revenues were up year-on-year for the first time since September 2018.
Apple iPhone shipments grew 11 percent (YoY) during the Q4 2019, even without a 5G variant. The iPhone 11 series received an excellent consumer response in all regions. The dual-camera, and lower pricing of iPhone 11 than the iPhone XR at the same point last year, helped propel sales.
Apple's Service revenue grew 17 percent (YoY) in 4Q 2019, reaching a record high in many categories including music, cloud and Apple Care.
Realme continued its growth streak and remained the fastest growing brand during the quarter (163 percent YoY) as well as the year (453 percent YoY) globally.