Tech Industry

Xiaomi nearly snatches Samsung's top spot in India

The brands share 45 percent of the market between them.

Samsung may make the world's most popular phones but it's losing ground to Xiaomi in India.

The Chinese phone maker just needs another two percent of the market to claim the title of bestselling phone brand in the country, according to a new report published by Counterpoint Research on Friday.

It's progress for Xiaomi, which is growing faster than any other brand in India. The Chinese phone maker grew from six percent this time last year -- when it first made it into India's top five -- to 22 percent this quarter.

Between July and September -- months in which Counterpoint says phone shipments soared to record numbers likely due to "festive demand" -- Xiaomi and Samsung together accounted for 45 percent of the market, at 22 and 23 percent respectively.

IDC's research, released in November, found a similar result. It showed Xiaomi and Samsung sharing the top spot, each holding a 23.5 percent market share in the country.

Indian buyers who prefer to shop online -- accounting for 34 percent of total phone sales -- tend to veer towards Xiaomi phones, especially the Redmi Note 4, which has remained the country's best seller for the third successive quarter. Those who visit brick-and-mortar stores still lean towards Samsung.

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"Three out of the top five bestselling smartphones in India were from Xiaomi alone," said Tarun Pithak, associate director at Counterpoint Research. Pithak also noted the brand has grown from being popular for "value for money offerings" to performance, given a "streamlined supply chain effort" by the company and "relatively weaker offerings" from competitors online.

Following its declining popularity at home in China, Xiaomi has seen some recovery. Lei Jun, the company's CEO, announced it shipped 10 million phones last month, a company record. And India is its latest fan, allowing it to grow more than 200 percent annually for the last two years. This is a key market for Xiaomi -- according to the report, India sold more than 84 million phones for the first time, making it an even bigger market than the US.

The Chinese phone maker may be seeing growing success in Asia, but it doesn't have plans to expand to the US yet. So far, only the Mi Mix 2 -- Xiaomi's premium bezel-free phone -- will work for a global audience, including people in the US.

Xiaomi did not respond to a request for comment.

First published Oct. 30, 3:08 a.m. PT. 
Update, Nov. 14 at 7:24 p.m.: Adds results from IDC report.  

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