China’s Xiaomi, once the world’s highest valued tech startup, is getting over a disappointing past two years with a notable spike in sales in its homeland during the second quarter of 2017.
That’s according a new report from analyst firm Canalys, which estimates that Xiaomi, which was valued at $45 billion at the end of 2014, shipped 15 million phones during the quarter to rank fourth in China. That’s a 60 percent rise from Q1 2017.
Despite that, Huawei maintained its lead from the previous quarter with 23 million shipments ahead of brother-sister companies Oppo (21 million) and Vivo (16 million), the two companies that rose to prominence last year in China and beyond. Apple completed the top five, according to Canalys, having been leapfrogged by Xiaomi.
As for the rest, sales were down for Apple, which just announced its first head of China, Samsung and Meizu. According to the report, the top five ranked companies pull in almost three-quarters of all shipments.
“Xiaomi still offers the best value in the Chinese market, and it remains the preferred choice for price-conscious consumers. The online channel continues to be a key route to market for Xiaomi and this quarter saw it take the lead in the 618 online sales events across online retail platforms, such as JD.com and Tmall,” Canalys analyst Lucio Chen said in a note.
CEO Lei Jun hailed Xiaomi’s resurgence this year, calling this most recent quarter “a major inflection point in our growth.”
“After two years of internal recalibration, Xiaomi is once again embarking on a rapid growth trajectory,” he told press, adding that the company is aiming to reach 100 million phones sales in 2018.
Xiaomi has always had a penchant for revealing its annual sales figures, thanks to some spectacular growth in its early days, but this year it declined to give full numbers for 2016, making its first non-reveal in its history. Issues began appearing when Xiaomi missed its sales target for 2015, selling “over 70 million” devices but not the 80 million that Lei had previously forecast.
The rise of competitors like Oppo and Vivo, and Huawei’s focus on mid-range devices with its Honor brand, were largely seen as responsible for Xiaomi’s struggles. Equally, competitors became wise to Xiaomi’s online distribution tactics and mimicked them with some success. While, overseas, Xiaomi’s expansion plans failed to ignite, with India arguable the lone exception. That wasn’t helped by the departure of its head of international, Hugo Barra, who left to join Facebook earlier this year.
But 2017 could indeed be a different year. Canalys’ Chen forecasts that Xiaomi’s budget ‘Redmi’ brand, plus its new focus on expanding its offline retail footprint, will put pressure on Vivo, Oppo and Huawei to retain their positions and sales.