By Gerry Shih
BEIJING (Reuters) – Huawei Technology Co Ltd’s [HWT.UL] smartphone sales rose by almost a third to $11.8 billion in 2014, according to an internal memo seen by Reuters, showing the Chinese telecoms firm’s continued ascent in the global handset wars.
The division shipped about 75 million smartphones in 2014, according to the year-end memo to employees sent by Richard Yu, the head of Huawei’s consumer business. Although that represented a more than 40 percent year-on-year increase, the figure lagged behind Huawei’s previously stated sales target of 80 million units.
Huawei spokeswoman Maggie Qi said the company does not comment on internal memos.
The results, which are due to be publicly announced in the coming weeks, reaffirm Huawei’s place among a small coterie of rising smartphone makers, including Xiaomi Inc [XTC.UL] and LG Electronics, whose growth rates are eclipsing those of industry leaders.
Pressured by low-cost vendors, top ranked Samsung Electronics Co is likely to see its shipments nearly unchanged this year, while second-ranked Apple Inc may have posted around 20 percent growth after launching the iPhone 6, analysts estimate.
Those growth rates, however, pale in comparison to the expansion of Xiaomi, which sold 26 million handsets during the first half of 2014.
If it reaches its sales target of 60 million for the year, Xiaomi will have more than tripled its 2013 sales of 18.7 million. Private investors believe it will continue to soar: the Beijing-based company announced this week a new round of equity financing at $45 billion valuation, making Xiaomi the most highly valued private technology company in the world.
Meanwhile, close rival LG Electronics Inc may have seen its smartphone shipments rise around 26 percent this year, according to analysts.
Trendforce analyst Alan Chen said in a research note this month that Huawei, Xiaomi and Lenovo Group Ltd, which recently purchased Motorola from Google in a $2.91 billion deal, will battle to be the top Chinese smartphone vendor in 2015.
“How Lenovo’s Motorola acquisition plays out and whether Xiaomi can replicate its home market success overseas will be key factors in determining who becomes the top Chinese brand in 2015,” Chen said.