Xiaomi, not Apple or Samsung, ate up Huawei's European market share last year

Xiaomi, not Apple or Samsung, ate up Huawei's European market share last year
The smartphone market as a whole experienced a massive downturn last year due to the economic impact of COVID-19. Europe was hit especially hard, and now Counterpoint Research has revealed how each brand endured.

The iPhone 12 was Apple's most successful European launch ever

The iPhone 12 was Apple’s most successful European launch ever, according to the research firm, and pushed its market share to a record-high 30% in the final quarter of 2020. Apple finished in first place ahead of Samsung with 15.7 million iPhone shipments, down 4% from the 16.3 million units it sent to European customers and retailers in Q4 2019.

The older iPhone 11 and Apple’s affordable iPhone SE, which were the world’s most popular smartphones last year, continued to sell well in most markets and helped solidify the company’s position.

Across 2020, Apple was the second-most popular brand in Europe by volume behind Samsung. It shipped 41.3 million iPhones, 1% lower than the 41.7 million units sold in 2019, and accounted for 22% of the market.

The European smartphone segment contracted 14% on average last year, so Apple’s stable performance is no mean feat.

The Galaxy S20 series really let Samsung down

Samsung shipped 15.5 million Galaxy smartphones in Europe across the final three months of 2020, down 12%. The good news is that, like arch-rival Apple, Samsung suffered less than the market average and sustained its 29% market share.

On a full-year basis, the South Korean giant continued to lead the region with 59.8 million shipments and a 32% share. The latter was up by one percentage point, but its shipments were down 12%.

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Counterpoint Research attributes the brand’s less impressive performance to the Galaxy S20 series, which never took off in Europe and was consistently outsold by the affordable Galaxy A51 and Galaxy A71.

Samsung also captured much less of Huawei’s market share than expected, with most of that going to Chinese brands like Xiaomi and Oppo. The research firm expects the Galaxy S21 series to perform much better but says the brand still has its work cut out in 2021.

Xiaomi's performance was outstanding last year

Xiaomi was by far the biggest winner in Europe last year. Its smartphone shipments were up an outstanding 85% in Q4 2020 and an even more incredible 90% across the full year.

A huge part of this was down to its strong performance in Spain and Italy, where it accounted for 28% and 17% of shipments, respectively, last quarter. Most of Xiaomi’s growth came at the expense of Huawei.

Whether Xiaomi can continue growing quickly in 2021 is dependent on more premium European markets like the UK, France, and Germany, where Counterpoint believes the flagship Mi 11 could play an important role.

But regardless of that, Xiaomi has done what Samsung dreamed of — eat up most of Huawei’s share and cement its position in the market, in this case as the third largest manufacturer.

Oppo continued its successful entry into Europe

Fellow Chinese brand Oppo entered Europe in late 2019 and benefited from big marketing budgets and the fall of Huawei. It shipped 6.5 million smartphones in Europe last year, of which 2.4 million were sent out in the final three months.

Its market share has doubled year-over-year and shipments were up over 80%. The brand is in a good position moving forward thanks to partnerships with leading carriers like Vodafone and Deutsche Telekom.

OnePlus struggled, Realme exploded, and Huawei collapsed

Despite the launch of its mid-range Nord in the summer and additional models in the fourth quarter, OnePlus struggled to grow in 2020. Its European shipments stood at 2.2 million units, a modest increase of 5%.

Realme, on the other hand, was a completely different story. It held the title of the fastest-growing brand in Europe last year, with sales increasing more than 1000% thanks to good performance in Spain, Italy, and Eastern Europe.

Lastly, Huawei was officially the fourth-largest brand in Europe last year, but its volumes dropped by 43% to 22.9 million units. In the fourth quarter, it collapsed even more — 62% year-on-year — and was much closer to falling behind Oppo.

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