Xiaomi Comes Out of Nowhere to be World’s Top Five Smartphone Manufacturer

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Less than 3 years since the launch of its first smartphone, the Mi1, China’s Xiaomi is a market phenomenon and arguably the most talked about smartphone manufacturer in the world. In the second quarter of 2014, Strategy Analytics reports that Xiaomi shipped 15.1 million smartphones, making the company the fifth largest smartphone manufacturer in the world with a 5.1% global smartphone market share.

According to IDC, global smartphone sales in second quarter of 2014 rose to a new single quarter record of 295.3 million units, a year-on-year growth of 23.1%. Xiaomi’s market share in the second quarter of 2013 was 1.8% which means the company achieved 183% year-on-year growth in market share for the quarter and far outpaced fellow Chinese manufacturers Huawei and Lenovo who saw their market shares grow 41.7% and 12.5% respectively. Smartphone market leaders Samsung and Apple both saw their year-on-year market shares fall in the second quarter of 2014 with Samsung losing 22.7% and Apple losing 11.2%.

In terms of units shipped, Xiaomi’s year-on-year performance for the second quarter of 2014 was even more impressive with the company shipping 268.3% more smartphones than it did in the second quarter of 2013. Among the other top five manufacturers only Samsung failed to ship more units in the compared periods and suffered a small fall of 2%. Apple shipped 12.8% more smartphones, Huawei: 81.1%, and Lenovo: 39.8%.

Xiaomi’s strategy to deliver high-end products at very attractive prices has been enormously appealing. After finding initial success and sustained popularity in the Chinese market, Xiaomi has rapidly expanded into international markets selling its smartphones in Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, and, most recently, India. In its second online flash sale in India, held last Tuesday, July 29, Xiaomi sold out of about 10,000 units of its Mi3 smartphones in just 5 seconds, while at the same time in China, the first sale of the new top-of-the-line Mi4 smartphone sold out in 37 seconds.

Despite a flood of accusations that—not unjustly—charge the company with wholesale imitation of Apple, Xiaomi continues to build a dedicated and eager customer base throughout the world. It remains to be seen how market leaders Samsung and Apple will respond to the disruptive “Little Rice” from China.