Huawei is gaining on Apple as it aims for 200 million smartphone sales in 2018

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Jack Taylor/Getty Images

Feel as if you’ve seen more Huawei and Honor smartphones in the wild than ever before? That might not just be the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon — Huawei’s global sales are rising, and the Chinese company is slowly gaining on Apple to become the second-largest phone manufacturer in the world.

According to a statement from Richard Yu Chengdong, chief of Huawei’s mobile segment, the Chinese company’s 2018 sales passed 100 million on July 18 — which means Huawei’s phones are selling faster than ever before.

“Previously Huawei reached the 100 million shipments mark on December 22, 2015, October 14, 2016 and September 12, 2017,” said Yu during a product launch on Wednesday, July 18. “As it’s only taken just over six months to reach the target this year, we are now aiming for shipments of 200 million units by the end of 2018.”

Reaching the 200 million mark would put Huawei within striking distance of its closest rival in the mobile marketplace — the almighty Apple. Apple sold 215 million smartphones in 2017, but should Apple’s sales decline again in 2018, as they did in 2017, then Huawei could end up surprisingly close.

Thankfully for Apple, 2018 has started strong, with sales in the first quarter of 2018 increasing by 2.8 percent over the previous year. Still, Huawei’s rapid ascent of the ranks should be a worry for Apple, as the Chinese company’s strong sales numbers come in spite of a failure to break into the U.S. market after a planned deal with AT&T fell through due to security concerns.

But how likely is it that Huawei will be able to achieve sales of 200 million in 2018? According to Zaker Li, a senior industry analyst with IHS Markit, as the market hasn’t yet entered its busiest period, Huawei’s goals could be easily within reach.

“Given that the second half is normally the peak season for smartphone sales as major brands will all release their flagship phones, it will not be difficult for Huawei to exceed 200 million units of phone shipments if it has already completed half of that now,” said Li.

Huawei’s sales figures are calculated by adding the sales numbers of both Huawei and sister company Honor, and the company has apparently found much success in India, but hasn’t shied away from trying new things, having recently released a triple-lens camera phone in the Huawei P20 Pro.

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