HiSilicon, Huawei’s semiconductor subsidiary, shipped 22.21 million smartphone System-on-a-Chip (SoC) units in the first quarter of 2020 in China, slightly higher than the 22.17 million units delivered in the first quarter of 2019, according to data released by Shanghai-based market research firm CINNO Research on Tuesday.
The firm’s latest shipments gave them 43.9% market share in the smartphone SoC sector in the first quarter, beating US-based Qualcomm for the first time, whose market share has slid to 32.8%. Taiwan-based MediaTek held a 13.1% stake while Apple controlled an 8.5% stake in the fourth quarter in the Chinese market.
The recent data shows that Huawei unit has been increasing exponentially its market share in the smartphone SoC market in China, while Qualcomm has been moving the opposite way. HiSilicon’s market share was 24.3% in the first quarter of 2019 and 36.5% in the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, Qualcomm’s market share has dropped from 48.1% in the first quarter of 2019 to 37.8% in the fourth quarter.
Huawei declined to comment on its market share when contacted by KrASIA on Wednesday.
Last May, the US added Huawei to its Entity List, preventing US companies from buying their equipment without special approval. The trade ban affects all of Huawei’s subsidiaries, including HiSilicon.
Chief analyst of CINNO Research Charley Zhou told KrASIA on Wednesday that “this trade ban has not affected HiSilicon in the short term but instead gave it a development boost.”
However, Zhou explained that Huawei has bought, prior to the ban, the permanent use rights of hard-to-develop US software essential for developing its smartphone SoC. If the ban persists, he said, it could prevent the company from getting access to newest versions of such software.
Huawei has been increasingly applying its HiSilicon chips on smartphones shipped inside the China market since last year, which is the reason behind HiSilicon’s enlarged presence in the smartphone SoC market, said Zhou, adding that HiSilicon’s chips have accounted for 90% of all chips in Huawei’s phones for the domestic market in the first quarter of 2020.
Huawei shipped a total of 240 million smartphones, up 16.5% year-on-year last year, outperforming all other vendors in China, KrASIA reported.
The Chinese tech giant shipped 8 million 5G smartphones globally in the first quarter of 2020, second only to Samsung with a shipment of 8.3 million units, according to data released by market research firm Strategy Analytics on Tuesday.
Huawei released the world’s first 5G SoC, the Kirin 990 5G, in 2019. In March of this year, it also released the Kirin 820 5G SoC, a different version, and the Kirin 985 a month later, according to the website of HiSilicon.
Woody Oh, a director at Strategy Analytics, said that nearly all of Huawei’s 5G smartphones were shipped in China, adding that the top three 5G smartphones from Huawei in the first quarter of 2020 by shipments are the Mate 30, Honor V30 Pro and Mate 30 Pro, all of which use the Kirin 990 5G chip.
Until now, HiSilicon chips have been used exclusively on Huawei’s products, although the company’s founder Ren Zhengfei once told CNBC that the company was open to selling its 5G chips to Apple.