Huawei Technologies and
are dominating the early market for 5G mobile phones, according to data from research firm Strategy Analytics, with
expected to remain on the sidelines until later this year.
The new data show that global shipments of 5G phones reached 19 million units in 2019, with demand “much higher than expected.” That’s up from zero 5G phones in 2018.
Huawei was the market leader with 37% of the market, most of those sold in China. Samsung had 36% of the market, selling 5G phones in a broader range of markets, including South Korea, the U.S. and the U.K. Vivo, which sells phones primarily in China, had 10.7% of the market. China-based Xiaomi, which sells phones in Western Europe as well as domestically, had 6.4% of the market. South Korea’s
rounded out the top five, with a 4.8% share.
The 5G phone sales last year were just the tip of the iceberg: the game will really get going in 2020. At the CES trade show in Las Vegas earlier this month,
(ticker: QCOM) President Cristiano Amon predicted that 200 million 5G smartphones will be sold in 2020, and growing from there. Apple (AAPL) is going to be a little late to the party, with the company widely expected to introduce its first 5G phones this fall. In commenting on Apple’s December quarter earnings today, some analysts wondered if stronger-than-expected demand for Apple’s iPhone 11 lineup might be stealing some early potential demand away from the 5G launch.
Meanwhile, the emerging coronavirus issue could have an impact on the speed of 5G adoption. Without referring specifically to 5G, Apple CEO Tim Cook on the company’s earnings call Tuesday cautioned that the virus issue could affect both its partners in China and consumer demand in the country.
Strategy Analytics Executive Director Neil Mawston cautioned in a statement that “the recent coronavirus scare is currently restricting trade in some parts of China,” which could cause a slowdown in 5G supply or demand across Asia or world-wide in the 2020 first half. “Industry players should be prepared for bumpy 5G sales in some markets,” he added.
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