The news: Xiaomi overtook Samsung to become the world’s No. 1 smartphone company for the first time ever, per Counterpoint Research.
Xiaomi passed Apple last month—becoming the second-largest global smartphone vendor as measured by shipments during Q2—on the strength of its unprecedented 83% YoY growth in Western Europe, Africa, and Latin America.
Samsung slipped to the No. 2 position in global smartphone rankings in June 2021, per Counterpoint. Samsung’s market share dropped to 15.7% as Xiaomi rose to the No. 1 position behind a rise in market share of 17.1%.
Xiaomi’s stratospheric climb is partly a result of rival Huawei’s misfortune. Only a year ago, Huawei became the No.1 smartphone maker. But its reign was short-lived, as it was hit with various sanctions. Expansion into Huawei’s strongholds in Europe and Southeast Asia helped Xiaomi grow its market share overseas.
Why it's worth watching: Xiaomi’s success is built on entry-level and mid-range smartphones in emerging markets, with prices hovering around 40% and 75% cheaper than Samsung and Apple devices, respectively. Both Samsung and Apple are starting to reach market saturation, especially for flagship devices.
The takeaway: It remains to be seen if Xiaomi can hold onto the smartphone leadership position in the face of Samsung’s and Apple’s upcoming smartphone releases. Xiaomi does have a lot of room to grow, especially in emerging markets, while Samsung’s and Apple’s growth continues to plateau globally.