Despite the UK’s decision, Australia is sticking by its Huawei 5G ban

Australia will be sticking by its ban of Huawei telecoms equipment despite the UK’s decision earlier this week.

In response to a question asking whether Australia would be revisiting the ban, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said on the Today Show on Friday: "No, we're not".

"They are a high-risk vendor. We have been very clear about it," Dutton said.

The UK and Australia share deep historical ties and cooperate through partnerships like The Commonwealth. Most notably, both nations are part of the ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence relationship which also includes New Zealand, Canada, and the US.

Due to such deep sharing of sensitive information between the Five Eyes partners, each country has a stake in ensuring their respective networks are secure. A weak link has the potential to compromise all partners.

The US has led pressure on its allies to ban Huawei telecoms equipment over national security fears. Among the allegations is that Huawei is controlled by Beijing, which the company has repeatedly denied.

Australia was the first country to ban Huawei’s equipment following US pressure, followed by New Zealand. The UK and Canada both held off and said that any decision would be evidence-led and based on their own assessments.

Earlier this month, US officials issued their British counterparts with a dossier highlighting their perceived risks of using Huawei equipment.

The UK decided to allow Huawei’s equipment in a limited role meaning they cannot be in any more than 35 percent of the access network which connects devices and equipment to mobile phone masts. Furthermore, Huawei is not permitted in any critical infrastructure or sensitive sites like nuclear sites and military bases.

British officials said the decision was made after its National Cyber Security Centre “carried out a technical and security analysis that offers the most detailed assessment in the world of what is needed to protect the UK’s digital infrastructure.”

In its decision, the UK government said: “The government is certain that these measures, taken together, will allow us to mitigate the potential risk posed by the supply chain and to combat the range of threats, whether cybercriminals, or state-sponsored attacks.”

All four of the UK’s major operators were already using Huawei’s equipment in their networks. One provider, BT, estimates the cost of complying with the UK government’s decision will still cost it £500 million.

Canada is yet to decide its position but is examining the UK’s decision. However, Canadian intelligence officials have shared similar views to their British counterparts on the issue so it’s likely a similar approach will be taken.

Back in September 2018, a Canadian official argued that allowing Huawei to operate improves security on the basis that if a specific vendor’s equipment is compromised then having others in operation means less of the overall network is affected.

Interested in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this and sharing their use-cases? Attend the co-located IoT Tech Expo, Blockchain Expo, AI & Big Data ExpoCyber Security & Cloud Expo and 5G Expo World Series with upcoming events in Silicon Valley, London and Amsterdam and explore the future of enterprise technology.

What are the IT investment essentials for 5G monetisation?

Telecoms.com periodically invites expert third parties to share their views on the industry’s most pressing issues. In this piece Francesca Greane, Marketing, Content and Community Lead for 5G World 2020, reviews where service providers should be looking to invest for profitable 5G monetisation.

As communications service providers (CSPs) start to roll out 5G networks, they first face the challenge of figuring out how to go to market with new industry partners and business models.

Existing legacy IT systems that support traditional products are not designed for dynamic 5G service.

As a result, questions such as: What are the key use cases and services that will drive new revenue, and what IT capabilities are needed to support new 5G services are dominating the conversation. As a report by McKinsey put it, operators today are keenly aware that they have to increase their infrastructure investments in 5G technology; something that fills them with both anticipation and resignation.

The main question and source of contention is where these investments should lie.

To help guide the conversation, Ovum’s recent report – IT Essentials for 5G Monetisation – examines the market dynamics and areas of CSP IT investment for 5G monetisation. As the report discusses, many of the high-profile features of 5G such as multi-access edge computing and network slicing will not be immediately available. Instead, 5G network capabilities will arrive in three phases, the final phase beginning in 2022.

However, CSPs that have started deploying their 5G networks cannot afford to wait until the full capabilities of 5G are available to begin monetizing the network. CSPs will need to invest in upgrading revenue management systems so that they are able to charge and bill for 5G services, in policy control for quality of service (QoS) and network slices, and in customer management tools to improve the customer experience and create more opportunities for monetization.

The report also examines the full 5G ecosystem; looking towards the vendors with whom these CSPs will be looking to partner as they invest in their IT capabilities. The report thus outlines key recommendations for vendors, such as focusing on the impact of customer experience on monetisation, vendors are urged to demonstrate their cloud readiness and provide use case-guided transformation techniques, in order to secure new partnerships with these investing CSPs.

You can download the full report – and gain access to all of Ovum’s market recommendations and business-critical insights, by clicking here.

To gain more insights around where you should be investing for your 5G roadmap, claim your FREE ticket to 5G World 2020 (9-11 June, ExCel, London).

With access to three days of content from industry-leading speakers, networking opportunities and 5,000+ tech and telecoms professionals, and the opportunity to meet with hundreds of service providers looking to invest in a new partner, don’t miss out on claiming your free ticket now by clicking HERE.

Telefónica doubles down on the smart home

Telefónica has created a global unit, known as the Chief Digital Consumer Office (CDCO), which will champion new digital products and services, paying particular attention to the smart home.

Led by Chema Alonso, the team will aim to drive forward the Aura AI digital assistant, as well as continue the creation of the ‘fourth platform’. The initiative will help take Telefónica into the digital era across several areas, but there does seem to be particular attention being paid to the smart home ecosystem.

José Montalvo will become Chief Data Officer, with a primarily focus on the development of the fourth platform project, including integrating new products and services such as Aura onto the platform. David del Val will become Director of Core Innovation, with a particular focus on edge computing. Antonio Guzmán is the Director of Digital Home, tasked with overseeing the development of the smart home and digital services ecosystem.

These are only a few of the names, but it does appear Telefónica is hoping to create a standardised smart home ecosystem for the markets which it currently operates in. This is an incredibly intelligent approach to creating value in the future, and with its global presence, Telefónica can provide competition to other players who are attempting to create a platform to control the smart home ecosystem.

This initiative builds on progress being made in the smart home following the announcement of a partnership with Microsoft at Mobile World Congress last year.

Alongside Microsoft boss Satya Nadella, Telefónica CEO Jose Maria Alvarez-Pallete launched the fourth platform initiative in attempt to own the smart home ecosystem, seemingly learning from the ‘walled garden’ business model which has been so successful for the likes of Facebook.

In this model, Telefónica leverage its relationship with the users, creating a platform for third parties to offer products and services. Telefónica will of course offer its own services, such as content, but why not create revenue by monetizing the link between the user and other companies in the digital economy.

While the smart home is still emerging as a viable segment in the digital economy, this is a very intelligent move from Telefónica . Connected objects are becoming more common, as there will need to be a focal point to manage this ecosystem, but also guarantee security. Telefónica has a trusted relationship with the consumer, a recognised digital assistant and the power of Microsoft as a partner. This is not a guarantee, but at least Telefónica is trying something new under the threat of the connectivity industry becoming commoditised.

Amazon and Microsoft are proving to be a different class in the cloud game

Amazon and Microsoft have unveiled bumper financial results and now it is over to Google to prove it can keep pace with the two clear leaders in the cloud segment.

For years, it was Amazon’s cloud business unit, AWS, which was incomparable to the rest of the cloud segment. No-one could get anywhere near this trailblazer, though Microsoft has closed that gap recently. The question is whether anyone else has? The likes of Google, IBM and Oracle claim to be in the same league, but there is little evidence to support this, but Google has a chance to set the record straight next week.

Amazon and Microsoft have now revealed their numbers for the final three-month period of 2019. The story is not quite complete without Google’s numbers, realistically the only competitor who has a credible claim to be in the same league, but the numbers are eye-watering.

At group level, Amazon increased revenues by 21% during the last quarter, with the cloud business bringing in $9.9 billion, an increase of 23% year-on-year. While net income only increased 19% to $2.6 billion, this was actually 79% of the total net income across the group. The cloud business unit at AWS is a profit machine.

Over at Microsoft, group revenues increased by 14% to $36.9 billion, while net income was up 38% to $11.6 billion. Revenue in the ‘Intelligent Cloud’ unit increased 27% to $11.9 billion with Azure’s revenue up 62% for the quarter. Cloud products and services of course factor into the other Microsoft business units, but the ‘Intelligent Cloud’ group is showing the most aggressive growth.

Business unit Total revenue Growth
Intelligent Cloud $11.9 billion 27%
Productivity and Business Processes $11.8 billion 17%
More Personal Computing $13.2 billion 2%

Although revenues are only one part of the picture, market share estimates also tell another story.

Looking at the most recent estimates from Synergy Research Group, Amazon is leading the cloud segment with 39%, Microsoft sits in second with 19%, Google is on 9% and 5% for Alibaba. Salesforce now has 4% and IBM is on 3%, while no-one else has more than a 2% share. These figures are for the Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) segments.

As mentioned before, the landscape is not complete until Google releases its numbers next week, though IBM and Salesforce have released theirs. At IBM, total cloud revenues stood at $6.8 billion, up 21% year-on-year, while Salesforce reported group revenues of $4.5 billion for the last quarter, an increase of 33%. These numbers are attractive, investors might well be pleased, but Microsoft and Amazon look like they are sitting alone in the top tier of the cloud industry.

Another factor to consider are the deal wins.

While Amazon has been hoovering up deals with SMEs and the emerging digital businesses, Microsoft has extensive existing relationships with almost every major corporation in the Western world. The firm claims to currently be working with 95 of the Fortune 100 companies on cloud infrastructure. These companies like the look of Microsoft, thanks to a stronger focus on hybrid-cloud, whereas Amazon has a better reputation for the speed and scale of cloud-only strategies.

During the last period, Microsoft secured the US Department of Defense $10 billion JEDI cloud contract, which will cover 1,700 data centres and the transition of millions of devices from on-premise servers to the cloud. AWS lost out on this deal, but it has got plenty of significant customer wins to boast of; Western Union, media firm Fox, the NFL, pharmaceutical giant Novartis and Best Western Hotels & Resorts.

Interestingly enough, the rapid expansion of these internet giants might well start to encroach potential revenues which have been earmarked for the telcos.

The last few months have not only seen CAPEX investment from the likes of AWS and Microsoft, but also picking up industry executives. An excellent example of this is Alex Clauberg, a former Deutsche Telekom executive.

As the connected world starts to spread to more corners of society and the ‘edge’ develops, there are plenty of opportunities for telcos to make more money from what is quickly becoming a commoditised service. However, there is no guarantee the newly created ‘service’ revenues will be reserved for the telcos themselves. Clauberg’s move is evidence the internet players are attempting to muscle in on telco revenues.

Clauberg is a well-known name in the SDN and NFV sector and is the current Chairman of the Telecom Infra Project (TIP). He was previously VP and CTO at T-Systems International, the global services and consulting arm of DT, but now works as Solutions Architects Leader, at AWS. There is not a huge amount of information as to what this new job actually is, but it is demonstrative of the ambitions of the likes of AWS in the telco world.

These are companies which are growing rapidly in their traditional playing grounds and pushing aggressively to steal profits in places they should be considered secondary. Google still has an opportunity to place itself at the top table of the profitable cloud segment, but it does look like AWS and Microsoft are in a league of their own.

Orange France just says ‘non’ to Huawei

French operator Orange will not have any Huawei kit in its 5G network, following its announcement of Nokia and Ericsson as its chosen vendors.

While this would appear to endorse hardening sentiment against Chinese kit vendors promoted by the US, Orange had indicated it was going to avoid Huawei when it launched its request for proposals last year. ‘…after several months of testing, Orange has chosen Nokia and Ericsson,’ said the announcement, apparently trying to maintain the illusion of choice in the matter.

“For Orange, the deployment of 5G represents a huge challenge and is one of the main priorities of our Engage 2025 strategic plan,” said Fabienne Dulac, CEO of Orange France. “We are delighted to be pursuing our partnerships with both Nokia and Ericsson, two key long-term partners, in order to develop a powerful and innovative 5G network. 5G will enable the development of new use-cases and new services, and will provide an enriched experience for our customers – both in the consumer and business segments. Through these agreements, Orange reaffirms its ambition to being network leader.”

Each of Nokia and Ericsson issued press releases referring only to themselves, bless them, and even censored their rival’s name from Dulac’s otherwise identical quote. Nokia seems to have a bit more business as Ericsson’s announcement refers only to the RAN, while Nokia is getting some end-to-end action. For the RAN work, Ericsson is covering the North-East, South-West and Ile de France/Paris regions, with Nokia presumably getting the rest.

“Nokia is thrilled to bring 5G to France with Orange, a key European operator,” said Tommi Uitto, President of Mobile Networks at Nokia. “Nokia has exactly the right technology for this project, given our excellence in SRAN, 5G and end-to-end network infrastructure leadership. This deal builds on our long-standing trusted relationship with Orange and will deliver a superior experience for businesses and consumers alike.”

“In addition to incredible new mobile broadband experiences for mobile customers, 5G is set to transform business, industry and society across France,” said Arun Bansal, President Europe and Latin America at Ericsson. “We will work in close partnership with Orange France to make this a reality and bring the benefits of 5G to its customers. Today’s milestone in France is also significant to Ericsson’s engagement with Orange, a major worldwide partner.”

While this decision doesn’t come as a major surprise, it does seem to add to the headwinds currently being faced by Huawei in Western Europe. While the UK and the EU have decided not to ban it entirely, there are far more complications to using Huawei kit than that of Nokia and Ericsson and European MNOs may increasingly decide they just don’t need the hassle.

Mavenir looks to cash in on US xenophobia

At times, US anti-China rhetoric flirts with the line between protectionist and xenophobic, but that won’t bother the likes of Mavenir as it touts its All-American credentials.

It what appears to be a relatively unprompted submission, Mavenir lawyers have filed documents with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) stating the firm is as patriotically-US as apple pie, watery lager, high-powered rifles and gas-guzzling jeeps.

The objective here is quite clear; the US political administration does not like China, is prepared to spend big to supercharge an alternative telco vendor to the likes of Huawei or ZTE, and Mavenir wants to get rich as the establishment attempts to drown the success of China’s technology industry under the patronising veil of national security.

It is opportunism at its finest.

“Mavenir noted that it is the industry’s only US-owned, US-headquartered, end-to-end network software provider delivering OpenRAN and virtualized networks,” the filing states.

There are of course other companies who could be deemed American, though it appears they have their own faults. Parallel Wireless, for example, is headquartered in New England, is funded by Californian moneymen, but some of its founders are Indian. It almost ticked all the boxes!

Although it is an unusual strategy from Mavenir, it might work.

US politicians might be losing the political battle to extend its anti-China rhetoric throughout the world but presenting a genuine alternative might be one way to aid this propaganda campaign. An alternative which is also driving forward the attractive OpenRAN technology to add a cherry on top.

While it might still be a technology in its infancy, OpenRAN is capturing the hearts and minds of those who want to force through disruption in the RAN ecosystem. The Nokia/Ericsson/Huawei cartel does not present a significant amount of competition, which OpenRAN could help with, while it could also make the economics of 5G network deployment more attractive.

There are a few initiatives which are progressing around the world. Rakuten is deploying a fully virtualised network with the OpenRAN community at the heart. Admittedly it doesn’t have to worry about legacy technologies muddying the waters, but Vodafone, MTN, Telefonica and Etisalat are attempting to blend OpenRAN into a more traditional network work environment, with legacy complications and all.

Earlier this month, the Democrat Senator for Virginia Mark Warner introduced a new bill to Congress. The Utilizing Strategic Allied (USA) Telecommunications Act will aim to provide $1 billion to create Western-based alternatives to Chinese equipment providers Huawei and ZTE. This is the prize the Mavenir gold-diggers are chasing.

And to sweeten the deal, Mavenir has also suggested it is able to help the poor rural providers dig out the dangerous technology from naughty Huawei and ZTE. We suspect it will all be done for a patriotically attractive price, or at least attractive to the Mavenir swashbucklers.

This is what some might call underhanded PR, a tactic which is more at home on ‘The Thick of It’ than the telecommunications slugfest. But it is an excellent of opportunism, which will probably be successful for the All-American vendor.

UK warns free European roaming may end in 2021

The UK government has published guidance on how travelling to Europe will change when we properly leave the EU at the end of this year.

Most of it is mundane, commonsense bureaucratic stuff to do with passports, driving licenses, etc. Irritatingly for the Brexit catastrophists is the news that there will be no need to apply for a visa for normal visits to any European country. So it looks like the Côte d’Azur, Costa del Sol and Tuscan villages won’t be rid of us as easily as expected.

One real issue we will have to deal with when we leave, however, is the matter of mobile roaming. The EU was responsible for forcing operators across the continent to stop charging extra for roaming on their networks, which has been very handy for things like checking the footie scores on the beach and publishing evidence of how much better your trip is than everyone else’s.

Freed from the EU’s benign tyranny, there’s no obligation for continental operators to play nice with UK ones and the opportunity to fleece our tourists will present itself once more. That doesn’t mean they’ll have to take it, of course, but that won’t stop the alarmist news stories predicting mass bankruptcies resulting from bill shock being written.

“From 1 January 2021, the guarantee of free mobile phone roaming throughout the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway will end,” warns the site. “Check with your phone operator to find out about any roaming charges you might get from 1 January 2021. A new law means that you’re protected from getting mobile data charges above £45 without you knowing. Once you reach £45, you need to opt in to spend more so that you can continue using the internet while you’re abroad. Your phone operator will tell how you can do this.”

Since the mechanisms for free roaming are already in place, European operators would have to actively change them to start charging again. This looks like a great opportunity for businesspeople and politicians to sort something out in the coming months to ensure our relationship with the continent is undiminished by us leaving its mega-bureaucracy. If the last three years are anything to go by, however, the chances of them doing so are slim.

BT says the UK gov’s decision to limit Huawei gear will cost it £500m

BT estimates the cost of the UK government’s decision to limit the use of Huawei’s telecoms equipment will be in the region of £500 million.

The UK government made its decision about whether to allow Chinese vendor Huawei in national telecoms networks on Tuesday. Despite US-led concerns around security implications, the UK government decided to permit Huawei in a limited role.

Philip Jansen, CEO of BT, said: “We are in the process of reviewing the guidance in detail to determine the full impact on our plans and at this time estimate an impact of around £500 million over the next five years.”

Huawei’s equipment will be allowed in no more than 35 percent of the access network which connects devices and equipment to mobile phone masts. Furthermore, Huawei will not be permitted in any critical infrastructure or sensitive sites like nuclear sites and military bases.

In a statement following the government’s decision, BT wrote: "This decision is an important clarification for the industry. The security of our networks is an absolute priority for BT, and we already have a long-standing principle not to use Huawei in our core networks. While we have prepared for a range of scenarios, we need to further analyse the details and implications of this decision before taking a view of potential costs and impacts."

The UK says its decision was made after its National Cyber Security Centre “carried out a technical and security analysis that offers the most detailed assessment in the world of what is needed to protect the UK’s digital infrastructure.”

American officials had urged the UK to ban equipment from the Chinese vendor over national security concerns. US officials issued their British counterparts with a dossier earlier this month highlighting alleged risks.

The UK has always maintained that any decision on Huawei would be evidence-led and based on its own reviews, but the result is nonetheless likely to anger its closest ally. However, as the UK leaves the EU on Friday, it’s a clear sign the country will act independently and not at the behest of American or European influence.

Victor Zhang, Vice President of Huawei, said:

“Huawei is reassured by the UK government’s confirmation that we can continue working with our customers to keep the 5G roll-out on track. This evidence-based decision will result in a more advanced, more secure and more cost-effective telecoms infrastructure that is fit for the future. It gives the UK access to world-leading technology and ensures a competitive market.

We have supplied cutting-edge technology to telecoms operators in the UK for more than 15 years. We will build on this strong track record, supporting our customers as they invest in their 5G networks, boosting economic growth and helping the UK continue to compete globally.

We agree a diverse vendor market and fair competition are essential for network reliability and innovation, as well as ensuring consumers have access to the best possible technology.”

All four of the UK’s major operators are using Huawei’s equipment in their networks. Providers like BT now have a task on their hands complying with the government’s requirements.

Although much less than if the British providers were forced to remove all of Huawei’s equipment from their networks, BT’s estimate shows the UK government’s decision is not devoid of cost.

Interested in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this and sharing their use-cases? Attend the co-located IoT Tech Expo, Blockchain Expo, AI & Big Data ExpoCyber Security & Cloud Expo and 5G Expo World Series with upcoming events in Silicon Valley, London and Amsterdam and explore the future of enterprise technology.

Seems the White House is all bark and no bite on intel sharing

The UK was threatened with intelligence embargoes should it allow Huawei to operate in its 5G industry, but Downing Street has seemingly won that game of chicken with the White House.

As part of the US lobby efforts over the last few months, access to valuable security data and intelligence was put on the line. The US Government believed allowing Huawei to contribute components to the UK’s 5G networks would compromise its own national security. The threat was made, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson called the White House bluff. Now it seems the US delegation in London is moonwalking away from the intelligence sharing ban.

The White House has been surprisingly quiet on the UK’s Supply Chain Review conclusion. Either President Donald Trump has his hands full with the on-going impeachment enquiry, or perhaps this an embarrassing outcome, a sign the Special Relationship is not as powerful as some would have thought, and the White House is not as influential as it currently believes.

Speaking at an event in London, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has suggested intelligence sharing between the two countries would continue.

“That relationship is deep, it is strong, it will remain,” said Pompeo.

Pompeo has remained resolute in his belief Huawei is a threat to Western democracies, believing the firm to be in-effect the intelligence gathering arm of the Chinese Communist Party. The Secretary of State even suggested there would be an opportunity for the UK to reconsider its decision in the future.

Although Pompeo is now on his way to Kiev, Ukraine, yesterday saw meetings with Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab. The aim is to underline the commitment of both parties to the Special Relationship and work towards a trade deal. Pompeo has suggested a new deal between the US and UK could be on the table by November.

While the UK has made its position very clear, there is still plenty of work for Pompeo to do; the UK is just one European nation after all.

“Our view of Huawei has been that putting it in your system creates real risk,” Pompeo said to reporters before leaving the US on the 28th January. “This is an extension – an extension of the Chinese Communist Party with a legal requirement to hand over information to the Chinese Communist Party.

“We’ll evaluate what the United Kingdom did.  It’s a little unclear precisely what they’re going to permit and not permit, so we need to take a little bit of time to evaluate that.  But our view is that we should have Western systems with Western rules, and American information only should pass through trusted networks, and we’ll make sure we do that.”

This trip abroad will see Pompeo have meetings in Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, and while there will certainly be lobbying taking place, the Secretary of State will also be keeping a keen eye on developments across Europe.

Germany is yet to make a formal decision, while France and Spain have not shown enthusiasm for banning the Chinese vendor. The UK is an influential voice in the European political arena, despite the offence Brexit might be causing, and if it can avoid retaliation from the temperamental President it adds confidence others could too.

Ultimately it was always likely to be an empty threat from the White House. Intelligence sharing works both directions, as the US will use data from allies to build its own databases. If the US banned intelligence sharing with every country where Huawei was operational in 5G, it might find itself to be very lonely.

In the greater game of political chess, the US is losing. If it is not able to convince arguably its closest ally, the UK, to its own way of thinking it might not have much success elsewhere. Thanks to Brexit, the UK was in a difficult position after all. Some might have suggested the UK would appease the White House in pursuit of a valuable trade deal, but Prime Minister Johnson has more of a spine than some have given him credit for.

Looking across the continent, Belgium looks unlikely to enforce a ban, having found no evidence that telecoms equipment supplied by Huawei Technology could be used for spying. France’s cybersecurity agency has seemingly given Huawei the thumbs up. Germany is holding off from a decision until after the EU Summit in March, though a ban is unlikely. Hungary is pro-Huawei. Italy has passed legislation to safeguard networks, but allowing Huawei in.

The US has seen lobby efforts gain traction in some nations such as Japan and Australia, though it has not been able to exert the same influence in Europe. This would have been unthinkable a decade ago, but it does appear the European nations are inclined to ignore the huffing and puffing from the Oval Office nowadays.

Q4 2019 smartphone market: Apple bounces back as Huawei retreats

The Strategy Analytics numbers for the Q4 2019 global smartphone market are out and a couple vendors fared much better than the rest.

The overall market contracted for the second year running, but less so than in 2018, perhaps indicating a 5G-fuelled recovery. For the quarter the big success story was Apple, which reversed its declines in previous quarters and delivered its best shipment numbers for a couple of year. Similarly Xiaomi rescued its year with a massive 27% increase in smartphones out the door.

The big loser in Q4 2019 was Huawei, which saw the end of a two-year growth spurt by shipping 7% few phones than it did a year ago. How much of this down to all the hassle it’s getting from the US is unclear, but it can’t have helped. The long tail also contracted by 13% at the global smartphone market continued its consolidation towards the big six.

“Worldwide smartphone demand remains mixed for now, with sharp declines in China balanced by strong growth across India and Africa,” said Linda Sui of SA. “Full-year smartphone shipments hit 1.41 billion in 2019, dipping 1 percent from 1.43 billion in 2018, due to mild inventory build in the second half of the year. Looking ahead, US trade wars and the China coronavirus scare will be among barriers to growth for smartphones in 2020.

“Xiaomi had a great quarter in Western Europe and held steady in its biggest market India. Xiaomi is pushing hard into the 5G smartphone category and this will be a solid growth area for the vendor in 2020. Oppo is expanding hard into Western Europe, with new models like the Reno 5G, but it remains under persistent pressure from giant Huawei at home in China.”

“Apple is recovering, due to cheaper iPhone 11 pricing and healthier demand in Asia and North America,” said Neil Mawston of SA. “Samsung’s global marketshare stayed flat at 18 percent, the same level as a year ago. Samsung continues to perform relatively well across all price-bands, from the entry level to premium models such as Galaxy Note 10+ 5G.”

The chances are Apple will carry that momentum into this year and will probably experience a spike when it enters the 5G market in Q4. Demand for 5G phones seems to be exceeding expectations, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see the whole market return to growth in 2020.