Smartphone sales see modest rebound after two-year slump

China is expected to be a front-runner in the adoption of 5G services with more than 170 million subscribers by next year, according to China Telecom. (Reuters)
Updated 02 November 2019

Smartphone sales see modest rebound after two-year slump

  • Samsung remains leading vendor while Huawei confirms No. 2 spot with gains in home market, survey shows

WASHINGTON: Global smartphone sales increased modestly in the third quarter, the first growth for the segment after a two-year slump, a market tracker said.

Data from Strategy Analytics late on Wednesday showed handset shipments up 2 percent from a year earlier at 366 million units, the first rise since the third quarter of 2017.

South Korean-based Samsung remained the top vendor and China’s Huawei held its number two spot despite US sanctions, ahead of third-place Apple, the research group said.

“Worldwide demand for smartphones is recovering, due to strong pricing competition among vendors and innovations such as larger screens and 5G connectivity,” said Linda Sui, an analyst with the group.

Samsung extended its lead in the market by boosting sales by 8 percent in the quarter to 78 million units, representing a 21.3 percent share.

Huawei was the biggest surprise, showing a gain of 29 percent with 66 million units sold, giving it an 18.2 percent market share despite sanctions imposed by Washington that could make it harder to obtain key technology and components.

The Chinese firm, which launched its latest high-end smartphone in September without popular Google apps, picked up gains in its home market, according to Strategy Analytics, which said Huawei’s gains were largely in its home market.

The report said Apple’s sales of iPhones fell 3 percent from a year ago to 45.6 million units, giving it 12.4 percent of the market.

Apple, which released its quarterly update Wednesday, did not disclose iPhone unit sales but said revenue from its iPhones was down 9 percent.

“Despite the slight decline, this was actually Apple’s best growth performance since last year,” said analyst Woody Oh. “We believe Apple is stabilizing, due to cheaper iPhone 11 pricing and healthier demand across Asia and the US.”

The report showed China-based Xiaomi maintaining fourth place with a 9 percent market share, followed by another Chinese firm Oppo, at 8 percent.

Other unspecified vendors captured the remaining 31 percent of the market, the report said.

China’s three major state telecom operators rolled out 5G wireless technology on Thursday, as the country races to narrow its technology gap with the US.

China Mobile, the country’s largest carrier, announced its 5G services were available in 50 cities — including Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen — with packages starting from 128 yuan ($18) a month.

Rivals China Telecom and China Unicom are also offering services at comparable prices in major cities, according to notices on their websites.

The ultra-fast mobile Internet service, which is 100 times faster than existing 4G networks, allows consumers to download full-length films within seconds, or use apps with virtual reality.

The technology will also pave the way for driverless cars, further automation in factories, and allow users to remotely control appliances such as coffee makers and ovens via the Internet.

China is expected to be a front-runner in the adoption of 5G services with more than 170 million 5G subscribers by next year, according to estimates by China Telecom.

South Korea will be in second place with a predicted 75,000 users, followed by the US with 10,000, analysts at Sanford C. Bernstein said in a recent research note.

“China will promote the deep integration of new generation information technology and the real economy,” said Chen Zhaoxiong, vice minister of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology at a technology conference on Thursday.

“This involves accelerating the integration and application of 5G in industries, transportation, energy, agriculture, education and health,” Chen said, according to a statement on the ministry’s website.

Beijing has been pushing for a quick rollout of the technology, and China’s state economic planner said in January that developing a 5G network was one of its “investment priorities”
this year.

Despite the success of 5G networks at home, Chinese telecom equipment giants have faced regulatory push back abroad.


Oil retreats in face of renewed coronavirus uncertainty

Updated 22 February 2020

Oil retreats in face of renewed coronavirus uncertainty

  • G20 finance leaders to meet in Saudi Arabia at the weekend to discuss risks to the global economy
  • OPEC+ has been withholding supply to support prices and many analysts expect an extension or deepening of the curbs

LONDON: Oil prices fell on Friday as weak Asian data and a rise in new coronavirus cases fuelled uncertainty about the economic outlook while leading crude producers appeared to be in no rush to curb output.

Brent crude was down $1.56, or 2.6 percent, at $57.75 in afternoon trade, while U.S. crude dropped $1.25, or 2.3 percent, to $52.63.

"With Brent failing to breach the $60 level on Thursday despite better than expected U.S. oil inventory data, rising market uncertainty is dragging down oil prices on Friday," said UBS analyst Giovanni Staunovo.

"Market participants who benefited from the price rise in recent days might prefer not to go into the weekend with a long position."

 

China reports rise in coronavirus cases.

Japan factory activity shrinks at fastest pace since 2012.

Russia says early OPEC+ meeting no longer makes sense.

Finance leaders from the Group of 20 major economies meet in Saudi Arabia at the weekend to discuss risks to the global economy after new Asian economic and health data kept investors on guard.

Beijing reported an uptick in coronavirus cases on Friday and South Korea reported 100 new cases, doubling its infections. In Japan, meanwhile, more than 80 people have tested positive for the virus.

Factory activity in Japan registered its steepest contraction in seven years in February, hurt by fallout from the outbreak. 

"We still believe that the market is likely to trade lower from current levels, given the scale of the surplus over the first half of this year, and the need for the market to send a signal to OPEC+ that they must take further action at their meeting in early March," said ING analyst Warren Patterson.

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak said on Thursday that global oil producers understood it would no longer make sense for the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies to meet before the planned gathering.

The group, known as OPEC+, has been withholding supply to support prices and many analysts expect an extension or deepening of the curbs.