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Chinese smartphone makers taking on bigger market

Updated: 2013-08-27 15:13

Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi has said the company is now worth 10 billion US dollars after a new round of funding, presenting the latest evidence of Chinese smartphone makers' breakneck growth.

The private company owns the sixth-largest market share in China, ahead of Apple Inc., according to global research firm Canalys. Xiaomi's share in the second quarter this year was 5 percent, a notch above Apple's 4.8 percent.

In the second quarter, electronics manufacturer Samsung from the Republic of Korea led with a market share of 17.6 percent, followed by four domestic companies -- Lenovo, Yulong, ZTE and Huawei, which ended up ranking from two to five, according to Canalys.

The rankings were compiled before Xiaomi launched its new smartphone, Hongmi, or Red Rice, which is expected to be this year's hot cake.

Priced at 799 yuan (128.87 U.S. dollars), the first batch of 100,000 Hongmi handsets sold out in just 90 seconds. In contrast, Apple's iPhone 5 starts at 5,288 yuan, while Samsung's Galaxy S4 is 5,199 yuan.

Founded in 2010 in Beijing, Xiaomi sold its first smartphone in September 2011. Last year, it had sales of 7.2 million units. Lei Jun, founder and chief executive of Xiaomi Technology Co., has forecast sales will double in 2013 to reach 15 million.

The secret to Xiaomi's success is low-priced smartphones, like most of its domestic rivals, analysts have stressed.

Buoyed by their success on the domestic market, Chinese smartphone makers are tapping into the global market.

Chinese handset makers now make up one-fifth of the world's branded smartphone market, up from 15 percent a year earlier, according to Canalys.

Yulong and Lenovo have entered the top five of global smartphone makers, pushing out better known Western names such as Nokia and BlackBerry that once dominated the market.

The shipments of Chinese companies still sit far below Samsung and Apple, and the two giants are expected to continue to dominate as demand for high-end phones grows. However, the market for low- and middle-end smartphones is projected to see explosive expansion, and that will be where Xiaomi, Yulong, Lenovo and others continue to prosper, analysts said.

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