Xiaomi overtakes Apple as world’s second-largest smartphone vendor

The Chinese tech giant now occupies a 17% share of the global smartphone shipments market

A hand holding the Xiaomi Mi Note 10 smartphone

Xiaomi has overtaken Apple in global smartphone shipments to become the world’s second-largest smartphone vendor for the first in its history.

This is according to new estimates from Canalys, which found that the Chinese tech giant now occupies a 17% share of the global smartphone shipments market, having seen annual growth skyrocket 83%.

Despite having been crowned the top smartphone vendor in Q4 2020, Apple is now well behind with a 14% share of the market, its annual growth having increased by only 1%. Xiaomi previously overtook Apple as the world’s third-largest phone manufacturer in late 2020.

Samsung managed to reclaim the top spot with a 19% share of the market and an annual growth of 15%, yet, according to Canalys research manager Ben Stanton, its position as the biggest smartphone manufacturer could be under threat.

“Xiaomi is growing its overseas business rapidly,” he said. “For example, its shipments increased more than 300% in Latin America, 150% Africa and 50% in Western Europe. And as it grows, it evolves. It is now transforming its business model from challenger to incumbent, with initiatives such as channel partner consolidation and more careful management of older stock in the open market.”

Stanton emphasised that Xiaomi’s advantage lies in its broad offering of budget smartphones:

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“It is still largely skewed toward the mass market, however, and compared with Samsung and Apple, its average selling price is around 40% and 75% cheaper respectively. 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,” he added.

Both based in Guangdong, Oppo and Vivo saw a 28% and 27% annual growth, respectively, and now both hold a 10% share of the global smartphone market.

According to Stanton, the global semiconductor shortage, which has been grappling the tech and automotive industries for the duration of the pandemic, means that the smartphone giants are all “fighting hard to secure component supply”.

However, he adds that Xiaomi “already has its sights set on the next prize: displacing Samsung to become the world’s largest vendor”.

In May, the US Department of Defense agreed to remove Xiaomi from the “Communist Chinese Military Companies” (CCMC) blacklist introduced during the Trump administration.

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