Oppo became the biggest smartphone producer in China for the first time in history, reports Counterpoint Research. This is the result of two factors: Oppo’s rise and Huawei’s decline.

This January Oppo captured 21% of the Chinese market, putting it on top. Fellow BBK brand Vivo was close behind with 20%, tied with the ailing Huawei. Behind that are Apple and Xiaomi, both at 16%.

Below is a timeline of Oppo’s growth. Its market share in January increased by 33% compared to December and 26% compared to January 2020. Note that the company’s 5G models are tracked separately as Counterpoint marks them as key drivers of growth.

Oppo surpasses Huawei and becomes largest smartphone brand in China

And it’s easy to see why – 5G smartphones made up 65% of all units sold in China during the last quarter of 2020. This also explains Huawei’s woes.

The company can source 4G chips, but for 5G phones, it has to rely on the chips it stockpiled before the trade restrictions came into effect. So, Huawei has shifted its focus to the premium market where profit margins are higher (but sales volumes are lower).

Oppo was able to capture the ceded market share. The analysts point to the successful Reno5 mid-ranger and the affordable A-series, both of which have 5G models at various price points.

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Huawei’s decline has been beneficial for Xiaomi too. Interestingly, it and the BBK brands are advancing on different fronts – Xiaomi is eating into Huawei’s online business, Oppo and Vivo are doing better in offline sales.

China Smartphone Shipments Market Share (%)
Brands 2019Q3 2019Q4 2020Q1 2020Q2 2020Q3 2020Q4
Huawei* 40% 35% 41% 46% 43% 30%
vivo 19% 17% 17% 16% 18% 18%
Oppo 18% 16% 15% 16% 16% 16%
Xiaomi 8% 9% 11% 10% 13% 13%
Apple 8% 14% 9% 8% 8% 8%
realme 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 2%
Others 6% 9% 6% 4% 2% 13%
* Huawei includes HONOR
Source: Counterpoint

Of course, the sale of Honor also led to a sharp decline in market share. Previously, the analysts tracked the combined Huawei + Honor numbers. The table above shows the quarter by quarter changes in market share leading up to January’s upset.

I think they can’t achieve this height without the African market! what do you think? For how long will they hold this top position?



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