Huawei made plenty of headlines this past week after analyst firms IDC reported that the Chinese tech giant has overtaken Apple as the world’s second largest phone brand according to shipments.
Truth be told, there’s quite a bit of a sensationalism in the headlines and that particular “Huawei beats Apple!” angle. Those shipment numbers only cover the Q2 of 2018. That’s a period that Apple traditionally sees a slowdown in phone sales because its most recent iPhone has been on the market for more than six months.
Considering that Apple didn’t release any smartphone in Q2 of 2018, while Huawei released a flagship series and two other lines of mid-tier phones, is it any surprise Huawei shipped more phones during that period? It’d be bigger news if Huawei didn’t beat Apple in units shipped.
Even Huawei’s consumer business group head, Richard Yu, conceded this at a media briefing held in Shenzhen today. Speaking to a small group of media, including myself, Yu said he knows Apple will take back the lead by Q4, because, in his words, “the A company will release three new handsets and will sell many units.”
He’s referring to, of course, the three upcoming new iPhone models.
In fact, Yu said he doesn’t even care all too much about headline-grabbing stats like market share and units shipped.
“The media care about this a lot, but I don’t care about market share,” Yu said. “If you want to increase market share you only need to ship more units, which means sell more low-end phones.”
That’s a tactic “other brands do,” he said. “If we pumped out low end phones to sell we’d already be number one in market share. But that’s not what we are pursuing.”
What is of higher priority to Yu is revenue and profit growth, which can only be achieved by selling top-tier “premium” phones. And on that front, Huawei has succeeded too.
An earlier report this week revealed thatHuawei’s overall revenue grew 15% year-on-year to 325.7 billion yuan (roughly $47.7 billion). That number covers Huawei’s entire business scope, which includes not just smartphones but telecommunication networks and enterprise business.
The company declined to reveal on record the exact revenue from just smartphones, but sources say the company’s consumer business grew at a similar rate.
Yu did announce shipment numbers, and the company’s last two flagships each saw significant growth compared to previous generations: Huawei’s flagship P20 series shipped a total of 9 million units so far in four months of release, while the Mate 10 series, which is close to a year old, has shipped a total of 10 million devices. Yu said the Mate 10 should finish at around the 11 million mark.
That the P20 series is already at the 9 million mark not even half a year into its life cycle is huge for Huawei, considering it took a full year for its predecessor the P9 to reach the 12 million mark.