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Xiaomi has Samsung in its sights after overtaking Apple in smartphone sales

<i>VCG/Getty Images</i><br/>Mi 11 Ultra (L) and Mi 11 Pro smartphones are on display at a Xiaomi store on March 29 in Shaoxing
VCG via Getty Images
VCG/Getty Images
Mi 11 Ultra (L) and Mi 11 Pro smartphones are on display at a Xiaomi store on March 29 in Shaoxing

By Laura He, CNN Business

Xiaomi has surpassed Apple to become the world’s second biggest smartphone maker for the first time ever, according to market research firm Canalys.

The Chinese company took 17% of worldwide smartphone shipments for the second quarter of 2021, behind Samsung’s 19%, Canalys said in a report published on Thursday. Compared with the same period in 2020, Xiaomi’s shipments jumped more than 80%.

Apple ranked third, with shipments that accounted for 14% of the global total. Chinese smartphone makers Oppo and Vivo followed, with 10% each.

The Canalys report measures the number of handsets manufacturers sell to distributors.

This is the first time ever Xiaomi took second place in the Canalys report. In the first quarter of 2021 and for all of 2020, Samsung and Apple were the world’s top two smartphone brands. In 2019, Samsung and Huawei topped the list.

Becoming the No. 2 vendor in the world is an “important milestone in Xiaomi’s history,” Lei Jun, founder and CEO of Xiaomi, said in a letter to employees on Friday.

“Notwithstanding the celebrations now, I want to make sure we can maintain our second place steadily and firmly in the future,” he said.

Xiaomi’s stock surged nearly 5% in Hong Kong on Friday.

Xiaomi’s global expansion and its retail strategy — it wants its online and brick-and-mortar locations to work more seamlessly together — drove its growth in shipments in the second quarter, the company said in a Friday statement.

Canalys research manager Ben Stanton also said in the report that Xiaomi is “growing its overseas business rapidly.”

During the second quarter, Xiaomi’s shipments increased more than 300% in Latin America, 150% in Africa and 50% in Western Europe, according to Canalys.

The Chinese smartphone maker is still largely targeting budget-minded consumers, Stanton said. Compared with Samsung and Apple, Xiaomi’s average selling price is around 40% and 75% cheaper respectively, he added.

“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,” Stanton said.

The company also got a big boost from an improving global economy, Canalys added. The vaccine rollout has brought some countries closer to normalcy, and people are spending more money again. In the second quarter of 2021, global smartphone shipments increased 12%, the research firm said.

Stanton expected that a major priority for Xiaomi this year will be to sell more of its high-end devices, such as the Mi 11 Ultra.

“But it will be a tough battle,” he said, as rivals such as Oppo and Vivo share the same objective.

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