Huawei's focus on higher-end customers and its push into foreign markets helped it ship more than 100 million smartphones this year, marking a new record for the Chinese manufacturer. The company said shipments increased 33 percent this year as it emerged as the world's third-largest smartphone vendor behind Samsung and Apple.
The news is especially noteworthy because worldwide smartphone sales began to slow in 2015 as major markets including China, the U.S. and Western Europe near saturation. The global slowdown has been particularly difficult for some vendors in China, where a vast number of low-end and mid-range handsets are manufactured.
Huawei noted that one-third of its smartphones shipped in the third quarter cost more than $300. It also touted its success selling phones in the range of $430 to $540 in Western Europe.
Recent data from Gartner supports Huawei's claims: The Chinese vendor took 7.7 percent of the worldwide smartphone market, Gartner said, behind only Samsung (23.7 percent) and Apple (13.1 percent).
Several months ago, Huawei was knocked from its position as the No. 4 smartphone vendor in the U.S. by ZTE, which has gained traction selling low-end handsets through carrier channels. Huawei's success in the U.S. has been limited because most American carriers don't sell its phones.
Huawei's close ties with operators have boosted sales in Western Europe dramatically, however. The company said last week that sales in the region grew 45 percent in 2015 over last year, exceeding $2 billion.
While Huawei's strategy clearly paid dividends in 2015, the smartphone market will only get more challenging next year. IDC recently predicted growth of smartphone shipments worldwide will fall into the single digits for the first time.
See this Huawei press release (in Chinese)
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Huawei's smartphone sales surge 39% in first half of 2015