Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi Corp wants to become the No. 1 smartphone vendor in Europe in the next few years, edging out leading Chinese rival Huawei Technologies, which is currently battling US sanctions.
Lei Jun, founder and chief executive of the world's fourth-largest smartphone brand, revealed the goal in a recent interview with state-owned news agency China News Service, although he admitted Xiaomi was also navigating a more complicated geopolitical environment amid rising tensions between the US and China.
Lei said Beijing-based Xiaomi was still focused on domestic market growth and would deploy localisation strategies when expanding overseas, according to a transcript published by China News Service on Wednesday.
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Chinese smartphone vendors held 35 per cent of the Europe market in the second quarter, according to research firm Counterpoint. Huawei had the largest share among these operators with 16 per cent, while Xiaomi and newer Chinese entrant Oppo had 13 and 3 per cent respectively. Samsung and Apple led the market, with 35 and 17 per cent respectively.
Europe is currently Huawei's largest market outside China but the world's biggest smartphone maker has been placed on a US trade blacklist that cuts off access to US-origin technology - including chips and Google's Android operating system, which houses popular western apps such as Gmail and YouTube.
Xiaomi and Oppo saw their Europe sales grow 55 per cent and 41 per cent respectively in the second quarter as they filled a void created by Huawei's 46 per cent decline in year-on-year sales, Counterpoint data showed. "With their attractive specs at affordable prices, [Xiaomi and Oppo] managed to woo some potential Huawei users to gain share at its expense," said Abhilash Kumar, research analyst at Counterpoint in a report.
Last year, Xiaomi's smartphone business contributed 60 per cent of the company's total revenue of 205.8 billion yuan, half of which came from overseas markets, Lei said. He said that the company would allocate 10 billion yuan (US$1.44 billion) to research and development in 2020 and he expected this amount to grow in future years.
Xiaomi shipped over 28.8 million smartphones around the world in the second quarter of 2020, according to research firm Canalys.