Apple has been pushed down to No. 3 in the smartphone stakes
Xiaomi Corp. has become the world’s second biggest smartphone maker over the past quarter following an 83% jump in shipments, according to preliminary estimates by Canalys.
This marks the first occasion that Xiaomi, the Chinese maker of everything from rice cookers to gaming monitors, has broken into the top two, historically dominated by Samsung Electronics Co. and Apple Inc. Samsung had a 19% share in the second quarter, Xiaomi had 17% and Apple was at 14%, according to the research firm’s data. Shares of Xiaomi rallied as much as 4.1% on Friday, the best performer on Hong Kong’s benchmark Hang Seng Index.
Huawei Technologies Co. had briefly disrupted the rankings, until sanctions cut it off from essential chip supplies last year. Its withdrawal from the highly competitive smartphone market pushed other Chinese vendors to spend aggressively on new hardware and upgrades. Xiaomi was particularly active, launching two flagship devices within the first four months of the year. Its Mi 11 Ultra device features one of the largest camera sensors in a smartphone to date, underscoring the firm’s ambition to push up into the premium pricing range.
“Compared with Samsung and Apple, its average selling price is around 40% and 75% cheaper respectively,” said Canalys Research Manager Ben Stanton. “So a major priority for Xiaomi this year is to grow sales of its high-end devices, such as the Mi 11 Ultra. But it will be a tough battle, with Oppo and Vivo sharing the same objective, and both willing to spend big on above-the-line marketing to build their brands in a way that Xiaomi is not.”
Overseas expansion was the biggest driver of Xiaomi’s growth, with the company increasing shipments by more than 300% in Latin America, 150% across Africa and 50% in Western Europe, Canalys said. The Mi device maker has spent the first half of the year contesting the title of biggest smartphone maker in China with rivals Oppo and Vivo, each with roughly equal share of the market.
The second quarter is traditionally the quietest period for Apple and Samsung as both prepare for new handset launches in the following months. The iPhone maker has asked suppliers to build as many as 90 million next-generation iPhones this year, a sharp increase from its 2020 iPhone shipments, Bloomberg reported earlier this week.
Subscribe to Fortune Daily to get essential business stories straight to your inbox each morning.