China’s Xiaomi overtakes Apple for the first time in smartphone market

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A Xiaomi logo is seen at a Xiaomi store on June 22, 2021 in Shanghai, China.

Wang Gang | Visual China Group | Getty Images

GUANGZHOU, China — Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi was the second-largest smartphone maker in the second quarter, overtaking Apple for the first time, a new report from analyst firm Canalys showed.

Xiaomi had a 17% share of global smartphone shipments, ahead of Apple’s 14% and behind Samsung’s 19%.

“Xiaomi is growing its overseas business rapidly,” Canalys Research Manager Ben Stanton said in a press release, noting shipments increased 300% year-on-year in Latin America and 50% in Western Europe.

The Chinese smartphone maker posted year-on-year smartphone shipment growth of 83% versus 15% for Samsung and 1% for Apple.

Stanton noted, however, that Xiaomi phones are still skewed toward the mass market with the average selling price of its handsets 75% cheaper than Apple’s.

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But the Beijing-headquartered company is now looking to push into the high-end market. Earlier this year it launched the Mi 11 Ultra, a premium smartphone that starts at 5,999 yuan ($928). It also launched the 9,999 yuan Mi Mix Fold, its first foldable phone.

That price range pits Xiaomi against Apple and Samsung in the premium segment. But its domestic rivals Oppo and Vivo are also trying to break through into the high-end market.

“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,” Stanton said.

“All vendors are fighting hard to secure component supply amid global shortages, but Xiaomi already has its sights set on the next prize: displacing Samsung to become the world’s largest vendor.”

Xiaomi has benefitted from Huawei’s struggles. Huawei was once the largest smartphone player in the world, but U.S. sanctions cut the Chinese company off from critical supplies including software and chips, causing its sales to plunge.

While smartphones still account for the majority of Xiaomi’s revenue, it is looking to get into new business areas. In March, the technology firm announced plans to launch an electric vehicle business and invest $10 billion over the next 10 years.

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