Xiaomi may become No. 5 smartphone vendor

TAIPEI, Taiwan - Mainland China-based budget smartphone maker Xiaomi Technology is expected to win fifth place in local smartphone vendor rankings this year on the back of strong sales of its Redmi smartphone, according to local reports.

Xiaomi currently ranks among the top 10 smartphone vendors in the Taiwan market with a 2- to 3-per cent share, Taiwanese media cited sources as reporting.

Xiaomi's market share is likely to continue to grow since pre-sale bookings of each round of the online selling of the Hongmi smartphone has been higher than expected, Taiwan-based Digitimes quote sources as saying.

The WCDMA/GSM-compatible Redmi hit shelves in Taiwan starting Dec. 9, 2013 at a price of NT$3,999 (S$167). The company has begun accepting pre-orders online.

Additionally, Xiaomi is to cooperate with Chunghwa Telecom (CHT) and Far EastTone Telecommunications (FET) to sell its latest smartphone, the Xiaomi 3, which has been in stores since Feb. 20.

Samsung Electronics, Apple, HTC and Sony Mobile Communications are currently the four largest smartphone vendors in Taiwan's handset market.

200,000 Xiaomi Smartphones Sold in Taiwan in 2013

Xiaomi, which has been in business for over three years, has outpaced Taiwan's largest smartphone maker HTC to take the fifth spot in China's smartphone market behind Samsung, Apple, Nokia and Huawei.

HTC's market value has declined by at least 80 per cent since 2011, with Morgan Stanley predicting that HTC's smartphone shipments will drop a further 33 per cent in 2014, largely due to Apple and Samsung's dominance in the high-end sector and the company's lack of a solid strategy for selling low-cost phones.

The extent of Xiaomi's reach outside of mainland China has been limited to just Hong Kong and Taiwan, a strategy that Xiaomi's Chief Executive Officer Lei Jun told Taiwanese media he has employed to carefully test out the "international market" in baby steps.

This week, Xiaomi co-founder and President Bin Lin held a press conference announcing the Mi3 that the first-wave Mi3 shipments to Taiwan will consist of at least 10,000 units, adding that Xiaomi is "satisfied" with its sales in the country last year, although he declined to specify actual numbers.

According to Far EasTone, Xiaomi sold over 200,000 smartphones in the local market in 2013, including 100,000 units of the Mi2S and 100,000 units of the Redmi.

Lin said Xiaomi does not set targets for its sales or market share in Taiwan, but has plans to set up its first overseas Xiaomi store in Taipei during the second half of this year to strengthen its after-sales service.

Xiaomi Kicks off Global Expansion with New Redmi Brand

Xiaomi expanded from mainland China into Hong Kong and Taiwan in 2013 and entered Singapore earlier this year and announced their new brand, Redmi, to the world. Redmi, previously known as Hongmi for sales within China, will soon be for sale in Singapore.

After launching Redmi in Singapore, the company will tap into more Southeast Asian markets in 2014, such as Malaysia, India, Indonesia and the Philippines.

The revenue contribution from overseas markets, however, will remain low for Xiaomi this year because the company plans to build a good brand image in other countries rather than boost its shipments in the near term, Bin Lin said earlier.

Recently, Xiaomi announced it sold 18.7 million smartphones in 2013, more than double of what it sold a year earlier. Xiaomi had sold close to 7 million smartphones in 2012 and had aimed to sell 15 million in 2013, a target it upped to 20 million after crossing 15 million in the middle of the year.

The company sold 3.225 million smartphones in December 2013 alone and hit pre-tax revenue of US$5.18 billion (S$6.57 billion) in the year.

Xiaomi, which has now expanded to selling smart TV's and Apple Airport Extreme like Wi-Fi routers now plans to sell 40 million units in 2014.