SEOUL—Huawei Technologies Co.’s sanctions-induced smartphone slump has rivals seeing opportunity in a market where switching brands is rare.
With U.S. restrictions curbing its access to key parts, Huawei has suffered a plunge in sales in recent months, most strongly benefiting South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co. and other Chinese makers.
Samsung, the world’s largest smartphone maker, will be moving roughly a month ahead of its usual timetable when it launches its new flagship Galaxy S21 on Thursday—capitalizing on No. 2 maker Huawei’s weakness, industry analysts say. Samsung recently forecast a 25% jump in quarterly operating profit, aided by a resurgence in phone sales.
Not long ago, Huawei seemed on track to meet its oft-touted goal of permanently unseating Samsung. But in the three months ended Sept. 30, its global market share shrank by nearly a quarter from a year earlier to 15% while Samsung’s grew to 23%, according to market researcher Canalys Inc. Lower-cost Chinese operators like Xiaomi Corp. and Vivo Electronics Corp. also gained.
Those trends persisted during the final months of 2020, industry analysts say, with estimates for a slight retraction in shipments. The overall smartphone market has been struggling to recover from the coronavirus pandemic’s blows last spring and summer. Analysts say they expect consumer demand to return to pre-pandemic levels this year.