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Xiaomi parties like a winner after coming second on world smartphone sales charts

CEO predicts ‘many vicious and fierce battles coming', bulks R&D budget by 30 percent and hires 5,000 engineers to chase top slot

Analyst firm Canalys has, for the first time, found Chinese firm Xiaomi the world’s second-ranked smartphone vendor, as measured by unit shipments.

The firm stated that Xiaomi achieved the feat in Q2 2021, when it enjoyed 17 percent market share, behind Samsung’s 19 percent but ahead of Apple’s 14 points.

Canalys’ market share numbers are preliminary data: it is yet to offer its assessment of how many handsets shipped in the quarter, making it hard to assess if Xiaomi stood out in a competitive quarter or during a slower sales period.

The Register notes that Q2 did not see a premium handset launch from either Apple or Samsung, and those events typically drive sales spikes as consumers rush to acquire new Galaxy S or iPhone models.

But let’s not take away from Xiaomi’s success, which Canalys research manager Ben Stanton said Xiaomi’s attributed to shipments increasing 300 percent in Latin America, 150 percent in Africa and 50 percent in Western Europe.

“It is now transforming its business model from challenger to incumbent, with initiatives such as channel partner consolidation and more careful management of older stock in the open market,” Stanton wrote.

Stanton added that Xiaomi “is still largely skewed toward the mass market … and compared with Samsung and Apple, its average selling price is around 40 percent and 75 percent cheaper respectively”

Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun was so chuffed by the news he wrote a letter to staff and popped it on the internet.

“This is the first time we reached this unprecedented level, and we will inevitably face many vicious and fierce battles ahead of us,” he wrote.

“It is an honour for us to compete with the most powerful and innovative companies in the world at the peak on the global stage,” he added. “We are still very young and thus have not accumulated sufficient experiences yet; we must keep calm and stay humble.”

The company is also pouring money into new products and more people.

Jun said that Xiaomi’s R&D spend has risen 30 percent since 2020, to US$2bn in 2021, and the company plans to hire 5,000 more R&D engineers this year alone.

"This journey is destined to be long and tough, with more loneliness than revels, more tribulations than applauses,” he added. “However, as long as we are moving in the right direction, we shall have no fear of the distance.”

“Dear colleagues, please join me in rolling up your sleeves and working hard to strive towards our dreams with all our might. Full speed ahead!”

And all that on a Friday. ®

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