China’s Xiaomi back to top five vendor as global smartphone market shrinks

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HONG KONG (Reuters) – Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi has climbed back into the global top five vendors list as the global market shrunk annually, even if only by a fraction, for the first time in 2017, according to a leading industry tracker.

Worldwide smartphone shipment volume in 2017 dipped by 0.1 percent to 1.47 billion, representing the first annual shrinkage, according to data from IDC released on Friday. Another tracker Strategy Analytics indicated a 1 percent rise.

With consumers showing no strong desire to upgrade to more expensive new flagship devices, both China and the United States – the world’s largest and third-largest smartphone markets – saw a decline in the last quarter, leading to a 6.3 percent year-on-year drop in total shipment volume in the quarter according to IDC.

Strategy Analytics put the same figure at 9 percent, the biggest fall in smartphone history.

Despite the weak reception of iPhone X, Apple shipped more phones than Samsung in the last quarter, according to IDC data.

China’s Xiaomi replaced domestic rival Vivo to occupy the spot of the world’s fifth-largest smartphone maker after its smartphone shipment grew 74.5 percent to 92.4 million units in the year.

Samsung Electronics, Apple Inc., and China’s Huawei Technologies and OPPO maintained their top four positions.

The market consolidated towards the top five vendors during the year as shipment volume by others combined dropped 11.7 percent.

Xiaomi, which is now exploring a public listing and valued at around $100 billion, was once the largest vendor in China in 2014 and 2015 before sales stagnated over the next two years amid fierce competition.

It has regained growth momentum this year with affordable, innovative products and international expansion, usurping Samsung as the largest vendor in India.

The Chinese smartphone market – the world’s largest – in 2017 suffered its first annual fall, by 4 percent according to Canalys and by 1 percent according to Counterpoint Research.

Reporting by Sijia Jiang; Editing by Alison Williams