Huawei steals Apple’s crown as No. 2 smartphone maker

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Chinese company Huawei wants the media buzz that would come with releasing the world's first foldable phone.
This is the first quarter since 2010 that Apple hasn't been in the no. 1 or 2 spots.
Photo: Kārlis Dambrāns / Flickr CC

Apple just smashed expectations yet again with another monster quarterly earnings report. But that’s not enough to stop Huawei from stealing Apple’s crown as the world’s second-largest smartphone maker, based on number of handsets shipped.

The figures come from analysts at IDC, who note that Apple shipped a total of 342 million iPhones in the quarter, compared to Huawei’s 54.2 million units. Market leader Samsung shipped a massive 71.5 million units during that same period.

Huawei’s ascension to the No. 2 spot marks the first quarter since way back in 2010 that Apple didn’t rank either first- or second-largest smartphone company in terms of market share.

Rounding out the top five places are Xiaomi, which shipped 31.9 million units in the quarter, and Oppo, which shipped 29.4 million. The overall smartphone market was down 1.8 percent compared to the same quarter in 2017.

Don’t start tearing your hair out yet, though

There are a few things to unpack about these figures. The first is that it confirms previous reports that Huawei was on track to overtake Apple in terms of shipments. By this rate, the Chinese manufacturer will likely ship more smartphones than Apple in 2019.

Secondly, it confirms why Apple has been pushing its presence in highly populous markets like China and India, despite the challenges it faces in both places. Huawei, as a home-grown brand with plenty of ties to the Chinese government, has received vastly preferential treatment to Apple in China. It is also doing well in India, where Apple is struggling to carve out a tiny 1-2 percent share of the marketplace.

Most importantly, however, these stats don’t tell the bigger story. Samsung may be no. 1 in terms of shipments, but it just posted disappointing earnings, based on weak sales for the Galaxy S9. Shipments additionally aren’t the same thing as sales. While a successful company will marry the two perfectly, supply and demand are not the same thing.

Ultimately, the stat that really matters is the one that’s not mentioned here: profit. Despite not being no. 1 in terms of combined sales, due to the number of handset models sold by other manufacturers, Apple is the only company which takes home a meaningful slice of the pie.

How much profit? Upwards of 80 percent of all of them. That’s before you even get into other stats like the fact that the App Store rakes in twice the revenue of Android’s rival Google Play store.

You can check out IDC’s chart of smartphone shipments below. A link to its original report is here.

IDC
Here’s how the smartphone industry looked over the last quarter.
Photo: IDC