Apple becomes world’s biggest smartphone seller with record shipments

(Reuters) – Apple Inc cornered nearly a quarter of the global smartphone market in the fourth quarter, making it the world’s biggest seller, while shipments for Huawei plunged as U.S sanctions against it took effect.

Data from research firm IDC showed Apple’s shipments surged 22% to a record 90.1 million phones in the quarter, giving it global market share of 23.4%.

The shipment data comes after the U.S. tech giant reported record holiday quarter sales on Wednesday, with revenue crossing $100 billion for the first time.

Apple shipped its iPhone 12 lineup, its first 5G-enabled devices, several weeks later than usual, but an expanded number of models and new look tapped pent up demand for upgrades, especially in China.

Sales in Greater China, which includes Hong Kong and Taiwan, surged 57% over the quarter.

“We had two of the top three selling smartphones in urban China,” CEO Tim Cook told Reuters in an interview, adding that “upgraders in particular set an all-time record in China.”

Apple took the top spot from Samsung Electronics which shipped 73.9 million devices over the quarter, a year-on-year increase of 6.2%.

Huawei shipments tumbled 42.4% in the quarter to 32.3 million, IDC said.

The Chinese tech powerhouse has been battered after the previous U.S. administration blacklisted it on national security grounds, preventing overseas companies from supplying it with key parts including semiconductors.

Huawei is now in early-stage talks to sell its premium smartphone brands P and Mate, two people with direct knowledge of the matter have told Reuters, a move that could see the company eventually exit from the high-end smartphone-making business.

Reporting by Sayantani Ghosh in Singapore and Josh Horwitz in Shanghai; Editing by Edwina Gibbs

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