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A Xiaomi 5G smartphone on display in Barcelona, Spain, on January 13, 2020. Xiaomi surpassed Apple in shipments for the first time in the second quarter to become the world’s second-largest smartphone brand. Photo: Bloomberg

Xiaomi surpasses Apple for the first time, becoming the world’s No 2 smartphone vendor as Huawei recedes

  • Xiaomi made up 17 per cent of global smartphone shipments in the second quarter, behind Samsung’s 19 per cent and ahead of Apple’s 14 per cent
  • Huawei fell out of the top five, as rival Chinese brands Oppo and Vivo took 10 per cent of the market
Chinese smartphone brand Xiaomi has surpassed Apple for the first time to become the world’s second-largest vendor by handset shipments in the second quarter, lifted by strong sales in Latin America, Africa and Europe, according to the latest numbers from research firm Canalys.
The Beijing-based smartphone brand accounted for 17 per cent of the global market, trailing only Samsung Electronics’ 19 per cent, according to the report. Apple came in third with 14 per cent for the quarter. Filling out the top five were Oppo and Vivo, both owned by Dongguan-based BBK Electronics, which each had about 10 per cent of the market.
Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun took to microblogging site Weibo to celebrate the news on Thursday. “Let me share with you all some incredibly good news,” he posted. “Xiaomi’s phone shipments surpassed Apple and became world’s No 2 for the first time.”
Xiaomi founder and CEO Lei Jun has sought rapid expansion in markets around the world since the company went public in 2018. Photo: Handout

China’s biggest smartphone brand continues to see its strongest growth in emerging markets, with 300 per cent growth in Latin America and 150 per cent in Africa, according to Canalys. It also grew 50 per cent in western Europe. “As it grows, it evolves,” Canalys research manager Ben Stanton said in a statement. “It is now transforming its business model from challenger to incumbent.”

Notably absent from the top five was telecoms equipment maker Huawei Technologies Co. Once China’s largest smartphone brand, the company has been hobbled by US sanctions. It is a stark reversal for the brand that briefly topped Samsung in the second quarter last year to become the world’s largest smartphone vendor.

Xiaomi’s growth continues to come primarily from budget-friendly devices, as it has struggled to make significant headway in the premium smartphone market. The average price of a Xiaomi handset was about 40 per cent to 75 per cent cheaper than the price of Samsung or Apple phones, according to Canalys.

The biggest challenge for Xiaomi, though, is the same one facing all gadget makers this year: the global chip shortage. “The increase in semiconductor prices is a challenge for all manufacturers,” Xiaomi president Wang Xiang said in a conference call in March, adding that it could result in higher smartphone prices, Reuters reported.

How Xiaomi rose to become China’s No 1 smartphone maker

Despite all vendors sharing this struggle, global smartphone shipments rose 12 per cent in the second quarter, according to Canalys.

In the first quarter, Xiaomi saw profits rise by more than 260 per cent, according to financial filings, and the company said it expects to meet its target of shipping 200 million smartphones this year.

The 11-year-old company also got a reprieve in the US in May when a district court lifted an investment ban on the company that restricted Americans from buying or holding Xiaomi stock.
The ban was imposed by the administration of former US president Donald Trump, which designated Xiaomi a Communist Chinese military company days before the end of Trump’s term in January. Xiaomi quickly challenged the decision, which received a preliminary injunction in March before the final ruling vacating the designation two months later.
This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Xiaomi becomes world’s No 2 smartphone vendor