Huawei overtakes Apple in first quarter to become China’s No. 1 tablet maker

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Huawei MatePad Pro is like an iPad Pro, but cheaper
Unlike most, Huawei had a great first three months of the year.
Photo: Huawei

The iPad no longer rules the tablet roost in China, the country Tim Cook previously claimed is Apple’s future biggest market. According to a Tuesday report from the South China Morning Post, Huawei has overtaken Apple to be the No. 1 tablet maker in China for the first quarter of 2020.

China’s tablet shipments fell a massive 30% in the first three months of 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, while most manufacturers (including Apple) shipped fewer units for the quarter, Huawei actually grew 4.3% year on year. In doing so, it claimed 40.2% of the market, next to Apple’s 31.5%.

“Only Huawei’s tablet business benefited from the boost in online education because other makers missed the opportunity due to the lack of plant capacity,” claims market analyst IDC as quoted by SCMP. “The strong demand for tablets will ease when people gradually go back to school and their offices as the spread of the virus continues to abate.”

Along with Apple, Xiaomi, Microsoft, and Lenovo all saw their percentages fall. Huawei, which shipped 1.5 million units in the quarter, was the only one to defy the odds. Apple and Huawei are, by far, the two biggest names when it comes to tablets in China. By comparison, Xiaomi made up just 5.5% of the market, 3.2% for Microsoft, and 1.7% for Lenovo.

Huawei tablets vs. iPad

This isn’t the first time that Huawei has challenged Apple’s market place dominance. In 2018, Huawei stole Apple’s title as the world’s second-largest smartphone maker, based on number of smartphones shipped.

There’s not necessarily any reason for Apple to panic, however. By any stretch of the imagination, the first quarter of 2020 has been an unusual one. Since Apple’s supply chain was battered during the first several months of the year, shipments are less likely to reflect demand than they are the problems Apple experienced making enough units. A previous report suggested that demand for the iPad was actually up this year as more people work from home. But they were unable to deliver on all this demand.

Things are not exactly rosy for Huawei, either. This month, the White House imposed sanctions on Chinese smartphone maker Huawei. This could make it difficult for Huawei to get the processors it needs to create its phones, networking equipment, and other technologies. Since then, there have been concerns that China could retaliate by hurting Apple — although others have dismissed these concerns as overblown.