Xiaomi Corp. almost tripled shipments to overtake Samsung Electronics Co. as China’s top smartphone vendor last year, according to researcher IDC.
Xiaomi, founded in 2010, captured 12.5 percent of the 421 million units sold in China during 2014, up from a 5.3 percent share the year earlier, IDC said in a statement. Samsung shipments slipped 22 percent, the only decline among the nation’s top five vendors, as its share dropped to 12.1 percent, it said.
Chief Executive Officer Lei Jun has grown closely held Xiaomi into a global top-three vendor through a strategy of low costs and targeted marketing of its smartphones. While Lei has invested in startups to build a new category of devices, his phones are limited mostly to China and other parts of Asia.
“Xiaomi’s focus on selling low-cost phones with decent specifications, as well as the hype that it created through its flash sales, helped it to obtain the top position,” IDC said.
While Lenovo Group Ltd.’s shipments climbed 13.7 percent in China last year, it dropped to third spot with 11.2 percent, according to IDC. Huawei Technologies Co. and Coolpad Group Ltd. rounded out the top five.
Shipment growth in China will probably halve this year to about 10 percent, from a 20 percent rise in 2014, as a reduction in operator subsidies weighs on demand.
In the fourth quarter, Apple was second in China behind Xiaomi. The maker of iPhones wasn’t among the top five for the entire year, according to the IDC data.