Oppo the top smartphone maker in China for first time ever

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Much has been made of Huawei’s US and Google-related woes, with the lasting impact of the entity list status yet to be fully known. A potential effect is Huawei’s dominance in China, which according to a report from Counterpoint Research, shows signs of wavering in 2021. This as fellow Chinese smartphone maker Oppo commanded more market share during January.

More specifically, Oppo registered a market share of 21 percent, followed by Vivo with 20 percent and a three-way tie between Huawei, Apple and Xiaomi with 16 percent each.

The report adds that Oppo’s recent growth is as the result of a growth of sales, with 33 percent and 26 percent registered for month-on-month and year-on-year respectively.

As for why Oppo proved more successful than Huawei, Varun Mishra, senior analyst at Counterpoint Research noted that the smartphone maker was simply able to cater to a wider segment of the market than the traditional leader was.

“OPPO has been successfully able to reposition its product lines in 2020. The rebranding of the Reno series and launching a more capable device at a lower price point than its predecessor helped OPPO capture the affordable premium segment. The strong momentum of the A series in the mid segment strengthened the product portfolio for OPPO and it was able to cater to the 5G demand in China across a wide price band. This was further helped by the decline of Huawei,” explains Mishra.

It looks like 5G demand is a key area for the success too.

“Over 65% of devices sold in China in Q4 2020 were 5G capable. Any absence of 5G models reduces the addressable market size for Huawei in China,” adds the report.

Whether the recent trends in China will be emulated in other markets where Huawei has a presence, remains to be seen, but given that Oppo launched in the country last year, we could see a decrease in market share for Huawei this quarter.

This as Oppo, Xiaomi and OnePlus look to take advantage of the situation, not to mention the fact that affordable 5G smartphones will be needed once spectrum is allocated and made available by SA operators.

Either way it looks like Huawei’s entity listing is beginning to have a larger impact than the company may have anticipated, which coupled with COVID-19-related issues, could spell another tough year for the company.

Robin-Leigh Chetty

Robin-Leigh Chetty

When he's not reviewing the latest smartphones, Robin-Leigh is writing about everything tech-related from IoT and smart cities, to 5G and cloud computing. He's also a keen photographer and dabbles in console games.

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