Xiaomi muscles past Samsung to become the world's top smartphone vendor... for now

Xiaomi muscles past Samsung to become the world's top smartphone vendor... for now
Founded back in 2010, Xiaomi was known as the "Apple of China" during its formative years, showing great promise pretty much right off the bat on its path to global relevance across many hugely challenging segments of the tech industry.

Of course, the company decided relatively quickly to primarily focus on the smartphone market after trying its hand at more types of gadgets than we can count, and just a little over a decade in, Xiaomi is now looking down (literally) at both Apple and Samsung.

June 2021 was a historic month for the mobile industry

Just one week after releasing its full Q2 2021 smartphone market report ranking Xiaomi narrowly behind Samsung and ahead of Apple in terms of worldwide shipments, Counterpoint Research is today taking a look specifically at the global vendor chart of June.

Believe it or not, Xiaomi jumped up to first place for the first time ever during the final 30 days of this year's second quarter, edging out Samsung and Apple by 17.1 to 15.7 and 14.3 percent shares respectively.

Granted, the last time someone other than Samsung or Apple had the global lead in smartphone shipments actually marked the beginning of the end for Huawei, but at least for now, we don't have any reason to expect something similar to happen to Xiaomi in the very near future.

Ironically, it's precisely Huawei's abrupt decline of the last few months that hugely benefited Xiaomi, especially in the two's homeland of China, where Samsung has yet to make an impact and Apple is less successful than the likes of Vivo and Oppo in addition to Xiaomi.

Obviously, Xiaomi's incredible global growth (from 26 to 53 million unit sales between Q2 2020 and Q2 2021) was also driven in large part by the Chinese brand's amazing performance across the old continent. According to Strategy Analytics, Xiaomi won Europe for the entire quarter after posting a 67.1 percent year-on-year surge in shipments.

Samsung will probably be back

With Xiaomi still absent from the key US market, it's important to highlight that Samsung's fall from first to second place was owed in part to an extraordinary circumstance out of the company's control as well.

We're talking about a production disruption in Vietnam caused by a local resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic that gave the chaebol's top execs so many headaches last year. While there's obviously no telling how the pandemic will continue to develop (in Vietnam and elsewhere), Counterpoint expects Samsung to fix its production issues... sooner or later, at which point the "ranks are likely to shuffle again."

It's unclear if said reshuffle has happened in July, but with the highly anticipated Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Z Flip 3 5G right around the corner, Samsung has every reason to be optimistic of how the chart will look in August and beyond.

Then again, it's also unclear if foldable devices are truly ready for primetime at this point, and with the Galaxy S21 FE 5G unlikely to roll out (at least in large quantities) by the end of September, Apple could conceivably go for overall Q3 gold if the iPhone 13 family gets a couple of weeks of global sales in next month.

In other words, it's virtually impossible to predict how this incredibly heated competition for the industry's gold medal spot will play out, although one thing seems pretty much guaranteed - there's no beating Apple in the holiday season, especially with no "mainstream" Galaxy Note-series challenger for the iPhone 13 throne.

For its part, Xiaomi will undoubtedly continue to provide stiff Redmi-branded competition for Samsung's Galaxy A-series mid-rangers across European and Asian markets, but that's unlikely to be enough to consolidate the company's freshly achieved industry supremacy.

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