New smartphones to heat up market
The global smartphone market is set to witness intensified competition as companies jostle to unveil new products to attract consumers, in spite of difficulty in securing key components to meet demand, industry insiders said.
For instance, on Tuesday night, Xiaomi Corp revealed its latest flagship handset MIX4 in China, featuring a string of cutting-edge technologies such as an under-display camera.
MIX4 appears to celebrate Xiaomi's newly earned tag of the world's No 2 smartphone maker. The status, wrested for the first time in the second quarter of this year, puts Xiaomi only behind South Korea's Samsung, according to data from Canalys, a market research provider.
Lei Jun, CEO and founder of Xiaomi, said thanks to consumers' love and support, the company has been able to outcompete Apple to become the world's second-largest smartphone brand.
Xiaomi's major rival Honor Device Co Ltd, the Chinese phone maker that was spun off from Huawei late last year, is scheduled to present its latest premium flagship smartphone Magic 3 series on Thursday night.
The Magic 3 series is widely seen as a key test for Honor that is striving to establish itself as an independent, trustworthy and quality-conscious brand in the high-end smartphone segment.
Realme, the world's fastest-growing smartphone firm, is scheduled to release its new premium phones on Aug 18.
From April to June, Xiaomi shipped 52.8 million units of smartphones to the world, marking a year-on-year growth of 83 percent, Canalys data showed.
In comparison, market leader Samsung shipped 58 million units, up 8 percent year-on-year.
Shipments of Apple at No 3 grew 1 percent year-on-year to 45.7 million units, while those of Oppo and Vivo, placed fourth and fifth, reached 32.6 million units and 31.2 million units, respectively.
Ben Stanton, research analyst at Canalys, said Xiaomi is growing its overseas business rapidly. For instance, its first-half shipments surged more than 300 percent year-on-year in Latin America, 150 percent in Africa and 50 percent in West Europe.
"As Xiaomi grows, it evolves. It's now transforming its business model from challenger to incumbent, with initiatives such as channel partner consolidation and more careful management of older stock in the open market."
According to Stanton, Xiaomi is still largely skewed toward the mass market; however, compared with Samsung and Apple, its average selling price is around 40 percent and 75 percent cheaper, respectively.
"So a major priority for Xiaomi this year is to grow sales of its high-end devices, such as the Mi 11 Ultra. But it will be a tough battle, with Oppo and Vivo sharing the same objective, and both willing to spend big on above-the-line marketing to build their brands in a way that Xiaomi is not," Stanton said.
Smartphone brands are battling to secure supplies of components amid a persistent global semiconductor shortage, which has been posing challenges in supply chain management, analysts said.