When major smartphone manufacturers talk about growth, they generally target three different markets: China, which is the biggest; the United States, which is highly influential and profitable; and the rest. India will soon rise from the latter pile, but until it does, Europe might be the most interesting battleground for the respective companies dominating the US and Chinese spheres. Until very recently, Western Europe looked a lot like the United States, with Samsung commanding more than a third of the market, Apple in a close second spot, and minnows picking up the scraps. But IDC’s latest data, as provided to The Verge, shows China’s Huawei enjoying a meteoric rise since the start of 2017. Yes, the same Huawei that the US government advises its citizens to avoid.
In the first quarter of 2017, IDC reports Huawei shipped 3.6 million phones in Europe and had a respectable 11.4 percent share of the market. That number has been on a steady upward climb and is now nearly double, sitting at 6.7 million for the second quarter of 2018. Huawei’s growth, combined with the seasonality of Apple’s releases, has earned the Chinese company an impressive 24.8 percent European market share, rising above Apple.
WESTERN EUROPE (UNIT SHARES)
WESTERN EUROPE (UNITS)
The ranking is likely to switch back in Apple’s favor once the latest refresh of the iPhone is on Apple Store shelves in September, but Huawei’s ascent remains impressive, and the linearity of its growth suggests it’s not topped out yet. Another Chinese company that’s racked up impressive growth is Xiaomi, which wasn’t even in the European market at this time last year but is now the fourth biggest smartphone vendor, approaching 4 percent share. Xiaomi today also released its first official earnings release after going public, and the report reinforces the theme from IDC’s data, with Xiaomi exhibiting strong growth everywhere and diversifying to more international sources of revenue.
The notable thing about this shift is that Huawei and Xiaomi have long been among the leaders of China’s phone market, which has typically been insular, dominated by devices that don’t make the transition overseas. This year especially, those companies are making a major push westward: Huawei is launching its current flagship P20 Pro in Paris, Xiaomi is launching multiple devices in Madrid, and fellow Chinese manufacturer Oppo is choosing the Louvre as the venue for its Find X launch.
What this change signals is that European phone markets will increasingly look like a blend of the US and Chinese ones, featuring both the traditional giants Apple and Samsung as well as the rapidly growing Chinese alternatives like Huawei and Xiaomi.