Xiaomi Edged Out Samsung As China’s Top Smartphone Vendor In 2014, Says IDC

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Xiaomi has taken the top spot in China’s smartphone market away from Samsung, says a new report by research firm IDC.

Thanks to strong year-over-year growth in Q4 2014 smartphone shipments, Xiaomi achieved a market share of 12.5 percent in 2014, up significantly from 5.3 percent in 2013. Samsung’s share, meanwhile, dropped to 12.1 percent from 18.7 percent.

The news isn’t too surprising if you follow research reports about China’s smartphone market. Xiaomi was dubbed China’s top smartphone vendor in August by Canalys and became the world’s third largest smartphone maker in Q3 2014, according to both IDC and Strategy Analytics.

Still, the report underscores Samsung’s sharp reversal in fortune over the past year. In another worrying sign for its future in key emerging markets, Canalys said Micromax beat it as India’s top smartphone vendor by shipments for the first time in Q4 2014 (Samsung disputed that report, however, stating that it is still India’s top smartphone maker by actual retail sales instead of shipment volume).

Furthermore, several analysts said last month that Apple had overtaken Samsung as the top smartphone vendor in the world, thanks to the success of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus.

Xiaomi’s success was due to a combination of its low prices and online flash sales, says IDC. Last month, the company’s vice president of international Hugo Barra told TechCrunch’s Jon Russell that Xiaomi keeps its prices down through a combination of a smaller smartphone portfolio coupled with longer average selling time per device.

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According to IDC’s new report, Apple also did well in China last year, growing its market share in Q4 2014 to 12.3 percent, up 7.4 percent year-over-year. Huawei and Lenovo also saw significant growth.

Overall, 420.7 million smartphones were shipped to China in 2014. In Q4 2014, shipments went up two percent from the previous quarter to 107.5 million. IDC analyst Tay Xiaohan attributed the growth to Apple’s iPhone 6 as well as the increasing number of sales through online vendors like JD.com and Alibaba’s Tmall.com.