Last week, Xiaomi
CEO Jun Lei said that he expects the smartphone manufacturer to take the number one sales spot in smartphones over the next decade. Lei had a chance to emphasize his belief at the World Internet Conference in Wuzhen China, taking to a panel to accentuate the company's growth in smart devices. To do so, the Chinese company will need to overtake the number one and two companies Samsung and Apple, something that Apple Senior Vice President of Legal and Government Affairs Bruce Sewell believes won't be so "easy."
Showing up two hours late to the "Creating an Online Global Village Together" panel, Lei talked over the course of three minutes about the expansions the company is making in smart devices around its hardware and phone ecosystem. Taking the opportunity to talk about the plans for the future, growth and where he sees the company headed, Lei made an ambitious statement
"I believe that no one thought the Xiaomi from three years ago, which just made its first phone, would later rank as the third largest player," said Lei. "India is becoming our largest overseas market. Within five or 10 years, we have the opportunity to become the number one smartphone company in the world."
reports that during the conference, Apple's Sewell was asked about the "number one company" comments Lei made. While Lei has high hopes that Xiaomi can take over the number one smartphone maker on a global scale, Sewell believes that it'll be a rougher journey than Lei may think.
"It is easy to say, it is more difficult to do," said Sewell. He added that there were "many good competitive phones in China."
Lei didn't let Sewell's comments go unanswered.
"In this magic land, we produced not only a company like Alibaba, but a small miracle like Xiaomi," said Lei in response.
Critics say that if Xiaomi has any ambitions of expanding much beyond where it already has, it will need to abandon its primary approach to selling smartphones, which is to slavishly copy Apple's designs in both hardware and software. The Cupertino company has not sued Xiaomi over its flagrant copying, due to the weak court systems for such matters in the two primary countries where the company operates.
Xiaomi's - not Apple's - eight-inch tablet
Xiaomi was able to beat out all other vendors in China during the second quarter
of 2014 to take a 14 percent chunk of the market, leaving its next closest rivals with 12 percent shares. The company overtook Samsung to claim the number one spot by 1.7 million units shipped, according to Canalys. The firm also reports that the numbers for the third quarter
indicate that Samsung fell further behind.
"It has been yet another stellar quarter for Xiaomi, which has extended its lead in China since last quarter, become the global number three vendor, and, encouragingly, achieved volume growth, albeit modest, in markets beyond mainland China, such as Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, and most significantly, India," said Canalys Vice President Chris Jones. "China still accounts for the vast majority of Xiaomi's shipments, and will do for the foreseeable future, but the proportion of its shipments heading elsewhere has doubled from three percent to six percent in a quarter."
More importantly, Xiaomi took over the third spot for shipped smartphones during the third quarter of 2014. According to the tracking results from IDC
, Xiaomi shipped 17.3 million units, trailing behind the 39.3 million from Apple and 78.1 million from Samsung. Lei says the company has 70 million active users, but is expected to grow to 200 million by the end of 2015. So far for 2014, the company has sold 45 million phones. By the end of the year, Xiaomi believes
it will sell 60 million units, and 100 million by the end of 2015.
It will be interesting to see how Xiaomi continues to grow not only in the next decade, but also over the next quarter. With Lenovo wrapping up the purchase of Motorola, Xiaomi was at least temporarily displaced by Lenovo for the third place spot. How long the ranking shift will last is another aspect to consider, as Lenovo is bound to get a boost in global shipments in the fourth quarter of 2014 from the acquisition. Looking to the future, Lenovo is also launching a new brand that would compete directly with Xiaomi. The challenges ahead aren't including other Chinese companies, like Huawei, that hold a notable sales rank.
While Xiaomi makes most of its headway in China for units sold and shipped, it is making some changes to facilitate sales in other parts of the world. In October, the company announced that it was shifting its user data around to different locations around the globe to improve performance for services like Mi Cloud. At least two data centers are being utilized in the US, along with other server expansions to accommodate users in growing markets.