Watch out, Samsung! 3 of top 5 smartphone makers are now Chinese

Xiaomi, rivals gnawing at Korean firm's lunch

It was more bad news for Samsung in the third quarter of 2014, as the Korean smartphone maker saw its global market share shrink by nearly 8 per cent, year on year, with most of it going to Chinese rivals.

According to the latest figures from Gartner, Samsung remains the worldwide smartphone king, but its market share was just 24.4 per cent for the third quarter, down from 32.1 per cent a year ago. What's more, it moved 9 per cent fewer units than in the year-ago period.

Apple, Huawei, and Xiaomi, meanwhile, all managed to both increase shipments and grow their market shares in the quarter.

Apple claimed 12.7 per cent of the market and shipped slightly more than half as many iPhones as Samsung shipped of its entire smartphone line.

But the real eye-opener was the rocketing rise of Xiaomi, which went from a paltry 1.5 per cent market share a year ago to 5.2 per cent during this year's quarter. China's would-be Apple more than quadrupled its shipments to 15.8 million, nearly matching Chinese telecoms giant Huawei.

Gartner's numbers put Xiaomi in fourth place in the smartphone biz, while other sources have previously ranked the upstart at third.

Rounding out Gartner's list of the top five smartphone makers was Lenovo, although the Chinese electronics mega-corp also saw its shipments and market share decrease since the year-ago quarter.

Significantly, however, Xiaomi's entry into the list means that three of the top five smartphone makers are now Chinese firms.

That's particularly bad news for Samsung. China is the chaebol's biggest phone market, but the third quarter saw its sales in the region plummet by 28.6 per cent. Its sales in Asia and Western Europe were also weaker than in previous quarters.

Investors have been grumbling about Samsung's softening smartphone sales for a while now. Many analysts predicted an executive shake-up at the ailing firm following recent disappointing results, but that no longer looks likely to happen.

Privately-held Xiaomi, meanwhile, looks to be engaged in an all-out war for market share, aggressively pricing its handsets at rates yielding only razor-thin margins, and it has been particularly successful in its home country.

There's hope yet for Samsung, though. The ballooning China market is a crucial one, but Gartner found that the fastest-growing market was actually the Middle East and Africa, where sales of smartphones grew almost 50 per cent, year on year. ®

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