Samsung Electronics No. 2 in 5G smartphones

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Samsung Electronics No. 2 in 5G smartphones

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Samsung Electronics lost by a whisker to Huawei Technologies for the title of No. 1 in the 5G smartphone market.

According to Strategy Analytics, Samsung’s share of 5G smartphone shipments was 35.8 percent in 2019, selling a total of 6.7 million units. First place went to Shenzhen, China-based Huawei, which sold 6.9 million units for a 36.9 percent share.

The U.S.-China trade war had little impact on Huawei’s 5G phone business, as most of its sales were generated inside China. Samsung’s 5G phone shipments were more international, with sales in Korea, Britain and the United States, the report said. The company’s popular 5G models were the Galaxy Note10 and S10.

“Fierce vendor competition in China and heavy carrier subsidies across Korea have been the main drivers of 5G demand,” said Strategy Analytics Director Ken Hyers, adding that growth in regions other than the two, including the United States and Britain, had lagged behind Asia.

In 2019, the 5G smartphone market was largely dominated by the two tech companies. The No. 3 maker, China’s Vivo, captured 10.7 percent of the market. Xiaomi had 6.4 percent, and Korea’s LG Electronics was fifth, with 4.8 percent.

According to the report, Vivo’s 5G phone sales were focused on China while Xiaomi grew its share in Europe last year. LG was focusing its efforts on North America and Korea, but apart from the two countries, it has a “limited presence in the rest of the world for now.”

5G is expected to continue as a big smartphone trend next year - with Apple to release its first 5G-capable phone and countries globally preparing to introduce their own 5G networks. Strategy Analytics forecasts that markets like Britain and the United States will close the gap with Asia this year in terms of demand. This in turn may be an opportunity for Samsung, which has a wider global audience compared to Huawei, a company still subject to U.S. trade sanctions.

The firm raised the possibility that the rapidly spreading Wuhan coronavirus may deal a blow to the 5G industry’s global expansion.

“The recent coronavirus scare is currently restricting trade in some parts of China, and this may well cause a slowdown in 5G supply or demand across Asia or worldwide during the first half of 2020. Industry players should be prepared for bumpy 5G sales in some markets,” said Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics.

BY SONG KYOUNG-SON [song.kyoungson@joongang.co.kr]

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