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Android-based Chinese brands: Rising smartphone favourites

01 Aug 2014  | Jessica Lipsky

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Android-based devices made a strong showing in the worldwide shipment of smartphones during the second quarter of 2014, capturing 85 per cent of nearly 300 million units shipped. Three brands from China made it among the top six smartphone players.

"Global smartphone shipments grew 27 per cent annually from 233 million units in Q2 2013 to 295.2 million in Q2 2014," said Linda Sui, director at consulting firm Strategy Analytics. "Global smartphone growth in the current quarter is at its lowest level for five years, and there are wide variations by region. For example, Africa and Asia are booming, while North America and Europe are maturing."

Following this trend, Huawei, Lenovo, and Xiaomi showed improved shipments with Huawei reaching 6.8 per cent of the smartphone market and Xiaomi taking 5.4 per cent. Strategy Analytics director Woody Oh called Xiaomi "the star performer" for rising to fifth place among smartphone leaders for the first time.

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Increasing Asian players make a beeline to Thailand brandishing smartphones featuring specifications that rival those of leading brands at dirt cheap prices, and eager to serve the 70 million Thais who have yet to purchase their first smartphones.

"Xiaomi's Android smartphone models are wildly popular in the Chinese market and it [sells] millions of them every quarter through its extensive online and operator channels," he said. "Xiaomi's next step is to target the international market in Asia and Europe, where it will have to invest big money to familiarise western consumers with its unfamiliar brand name."

Huawei, meanwhile, shipped 34.27 million smartphones for a 62 per cent year-over-year growth rate. Officials attribute the company's third place among handset vendors to its Ascend smartphone series with LTE, which have led to "success in the mid-to high-end market."

While Samsung dominated the smartphone market with 74.5 million units this quarter, Strategy Analytics analysts noted a slight drop in shipments from 2013. The company faces tough competition from Apple in higher-tier phones and from Huawei at the lower end. Should Chinese companies and other Android-based devices continue to sell well, the OS paradigm could change completely.

Strategy Analytics executive director Neil Mawston said:

Like the PC market, Android is on the verge of turning smartphone platforms into a one-horse race. Its low-cost services and user-friendly software remain wildly attractive to hardware makers, operators and consumers worldwide. Rival OS vendors are going to have to do something revolutionary to overturn Android's huge lead in smartphone shipments. Apple's push into the big-screen phablet market and Firefox's expansion into the ultra-low-cost smartphone market later this year are the only major threats to Android's continued growth at this stage.

Android's gain comes at the expense of every major rival platform, with BlackBerry holding on to just one per cent of the global smartphone market and Apple's iOS losing one point of share due to a lack of presence in low-tier phones. Likewise, Microsoft's Windows Phone share fell two per cent globally.

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