At the beginning of 2019, Huawei was one of the major players in the smartphone market. And its ambition was to become number one by overtaking Samsung. But just when everything seemed to be going well for the manufacturer, US sanctions came down.

During the Trump era, Washington enacted sanctions against Huawei, banning US companies (except those with a license) from doing business with the Chinese company. The main consequence of this was a ban on Huawei pre-installing Google apps and services on its smartphones.

This had an impact on Huawei’s growth. But it was able to continue producing smartphones using non-US components, as well as the open source version and without Google apps of the Android operating system.

As a result, Huawei was able to continue selling smartphones without Google apps in Europe. And in China, these measures had almost no effect, since Google services are not used there anyway. So despite these sanctions, Huawei continued to be in the global top 5.

New sanctions in 2020 that affected the supply chain

But the situation changed in 2020, as the former Trump administration announced new sanctions. And this time, it was Huawei’s supply chain that was targeted. Indeed, these new sanctions also banned non-US companies, but which use US equipment from doing business with the manufacturer.

For example, Huawei is facing a shortage of chips, as the supplier that normally makes its Kirin chips can no longer provide those components. And this time, Huawei’s market share has really collapsed.

The situation is so bad that even in China, Huawei is going backwards. This is indicated by a new study conducted by the company IDC. This study is about smartphone shipments in China in the second quarter of 2021. And according to it, the top five manufacturers during this period were Vivo, Oppo, Xiaomi, Apple and Honor.

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In China, Huawei is no longer in the top five and is overtaken by its former sub-brand Honor

Huawei is not in the Top 5, and is included in the other category. Its market share was lower than Honor’s (8.8%, or 6.9 million devices shipped). As a reminder, Honor was spun off from Huawei and sold to another company, so that the brand could get out from under US sanctions.

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“Honor has entered the Top 5 in China for the first time after its exit from Huawei. Honor has managed to shake off the impact of US sanctions at least in its domestic market and given it a good start. However, more competition and challenges are still expected in overseas markets,” said Will Wong, research director for consumer devices at IDC Asia/Pacific.

It’s worth noting, however, that for the time being, its competitors are still unable to fill the void left by Huawei. As Xi Wang, Research Manager at IDC, explains, even though the top 4 manufacturers have performed well, they have not been able to fill the gap.

In fact, in the second quarter of 2021, smartphone shipments in China were down 10% compared to the same period in 2020. This, according to IDC, is due to weaker-than-expected demand as well as a lack of flagship products that can attract consumer interest.

Still uncertain about the Huawei P50

Currently, Huawei fans are waiting for the P50. But the model is still not released. At an event, the manufacturer had given a sneak peek of its new flagship and admitted that due to US sanctions, it is unable to give a launch date.

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It remains to be seen how Huawei plans to recover. At one point, it was thought that the arrival of Joe Biden in the White House could have an impact on the situation of the manufacturer. But in the end, the new administration decided not to touch the sanctions that had been decreed by its predecessors.