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Samsung to Remain a Top Global Smartphone Player in the Near Future

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Despite receiving greater competition from major Chinese handset players such as OPPO, Vivo, and Xiaomi, Samsung is likely to remain the top original equipment manufacturer (OEM) globally on an annual basis in the near future, a new report has said.

Samsung is currently the undisputed leader in smartphone shipments and has been the top smartphone vendor since 2012.

“Xiaomi has been inching closer to Samsung, even displacing it as the top smartphone vendor globally towards the end of Q2 2021. While this is a major development, it does not necessarily indicate a permanent shift in OEM dynamics,” said the report from Counterpoint Research.

Although Samsung has been the top global player annually for the past several years, it has not always been the top player in each quarter of these years.

For example, Samsung lost the top spot in five of the 26 quarters between Q1 2015 and Q2 2021.

Usually, Samsung loses the top spot to Apple in the fourth quarter (Q4) due to the sales of the newly launched iPhone models.

“In Q2 2020 too, Huawei, together with Honor, which was included at the time, managed to ship more smartphones than Samsung. So, although Xiaomi inching closer to Samsung in Q2 2021 is an event that needs to be taken note of, it is not unprecedented,” explained Harmeet Singh Walia Harmeet of Counterpoint Research, who focuses on camera modules, MEA mobile market, and the AR/VR sector.

That said, Xiaomi has been rising in multiple geographies and topped shipments in Asia and Europe in Q2 2021. While in Asia, it has topped shipments often, this was the first time it was topping shipments in Europe.

“Xiaomi’s rise also coincides with the decline of Huawei, another major Chinese OEM. Xiaomi, along with OPPO and OnePlus, took over large parts of Huawei’s affordable market, particularly in Europe, while also being among the primary OEMs, along with Samsung, to take over Huawei’s premium affordable segment there,” Walia argued.

Xiaomi became the market leader in some price-conscious European markets, such as Russia.

While Xiaomi’s growth has not been accidental, its rise to the very top towards the end of Q2 2021 was also because of production difficulties faced by Samsung due to its factory in Vietnam becoming temporarily non-operational during a Covid-triggered lockdown.

“This came in a quarter where Samsung has historically seen weaker shipments (while Samsung’s shipment share in all Q1s since 2015 has been well over 20 percent, its shipment share in all Q2s since 2015 has usually been a little above or under 20 percent),” said Walia.

Samsung’s strong vertical integration and availability of its models in a wide range of price bands in every major region convey that “while we may see Xiaomi beating Samsung for the top spot in several regions in certain quarters, and Apple beating Samsung for the top spot in Q4s, Samsung is likely to remain the top OEM globally on an annual basis in the near future”, the report noted.


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