‘China’s Apple’ knocked off top spot by…

Xiamoi knocked out of top spot in China's cell phone market

Xiaomi the smartphone maker often dubbed "China's Apple", has been dethroned in its home market by rival Huawei as it struggles to maintain a rapid sales growth rate.

In the third quarter, Huawei took the top spot after it posted 81 percent year-on-year shipment growth, while Xiaomi's shrank, according to data from market research firm Canalys. The company did not release specific figures, but said it would publish full country-level phone estimates to clients by the end of the month.

"Huawei's ascent to China's smart phone throne is a remarkable feat, especially in the context of an increasingly cutthroat and maturing Chinese smart phone market," Jessie Ding, a research analyst at Canalys, said in a note.

"On the other hand, Xiaomi, with its worldwide target of 80 million smart phone shipments for 2015, is under tremendous pressure to keep growing as an international player as it is slowing down in its key home market.'"

Arjun Kharpal

Xiaomi has built its success on selling top-spec hardware at a low price. Its growth rates have been rapid but its biggest market is China which is facing a smartphone slowdown. The company has looked to expand into new countries and recently launched in Brazil. On Wednesday, Xiaomi's President Bin Lin said the company is "considering" selling its Mi Note and Mi Note Pro phones in the U.S.

Whereas Xiaomi tends to focus on a narrower price segment, Huawei has been rapidly expanding its product portfolio to attack all price ranges. It offers a lower-priced series of phones under the Honor brand which it owns and recently released a premium-end device called the Mate S.

Huawei is also more of an international player. In the second quarter of this year, Huawei was the third-biggest smartphone maker by market share, according to IDC, helped by strong European sales.

A number of Chinese manufacturers are looking to move beyond their home market as it slows, particularly looking at the U.S. Huawei sells an unlocked version of its P8 Lite in the U.S., while ZTE recently launched the Axon Pro, aimed specifically at that market.