China’s Xiaomi has finally revealed how many smartphones in sold last year. Kinda. The company said in a statement today that it sold “over 70 million” devices in 2015. That’s a 15 percent jump on the 61 million sales it logged for 2014, but it is short of the 80 million projection it set for 2015 — which was reduced from an initial 100 million target.
Xiaomi has been under pressure from media for slowing sales growth, with its $45 billion valuation coming into question. The company seemed to feed into negativity that when it bucked its usual New Year tradition by not releasing sales figures for the previous twelve months… until now.
We asked Xiaomi for an exact figure but it declined to provide one. A representative also told us that Xiaomi would not break sales out by region, so we can’t be sure how many phones it sold in China, and how it is performing in emerging markets like India, Indonesia and Brazil — where demand is promising but there’s plenty of competition in the sub-$300 phone bracket.
Analysts are generally agreed that fellow Chinese phone maker Huawei eclipsed Xiaomi in terms of performance in 2015.
The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Huawei became the first Chinese company to ship more than 100 million smartphones in a single year, thanks to impressive 44 percent shipment growth.
Late last year, analyst firm Canalys went so far as to report that Huawei overtook Xiaomi as China’s top smartphone seller in the third quarter of 2015, and there’s a growing feel that Xiaomi’s online sales model has been duplicated by the competition, taking one important factor it had on its rivals away from it. Likewise, Xiaomi’s services business — long seen as a potential money-making organ — has yet to kick in and show signs of delivering on its potential.
Nonetheless, Xiaomi today claimed that it, not Huawei, was “the top smartphone manufacturer in China in terms of market share for the year of 2015.”
Even though Huawei ‘won’ in terms of shipments, it’s quite possible Xiaomi topped its rival in China. For one thing, Huawei discloses shipments (to retailers) and Xiaomi deals in sales to end-users, both companies figures are global (Huawei made a big U.S. push last year) not China specific, and Xiaomi led Huawei in China according to analyst reports for the first half of 2015.
But the rivalry is really a distraction from the main point: the development of Xiaomi’s business.
At the end of the day, Xiaomi’s sales are still rising but it has reached a level of relative maturity and its closest rivals have upped their game too. The big question for 2016 is whether Xiaomi has enough in its locker to justify its colossal valuation, or whether it may to readjust its goals and expectations.