Smartphone maker Xiaomi has finally topped the sales chart in India, ending Samsung's six-year reign in a market increasingly dominated by Chinese firms.

The Beijing-based company shipped 8.2 million smartphones during the fourth quarter of 2017, outstripping its South Korean rival's 7.3 million units, according to a report published by Canalys on Wednesday.

Xiaomi entered the country in July 2014 and now commands a 27 per cent share of the smartphone market, just ahead of Samsung on 25 per cent.

According to a report by Counterpoint Research, also released on Wednesday, Xiaomi led smartphone shipments with 25 per cent of the total in the last quarter, ahead of Samsung's 23 per cent.


Both sets of figures represent a remarkable increase for Xiaomi, which had only a 9 per cent share of the Indian market in the same three-month period of 2016, a long way behind Samsung on 24 per cent.

Xiaomi, often dubbed the "Chinese Apple", has identified India as its next growth engine as it faces increasingly stiff competition in its home markets and looks for diversified, long-term earnings channels to shore up its plans for an IPO this year.

Xiaomi's persistence in a market it only entered three years ago has paid off, according to Ishan Dutt, a Canalys research analyst. He said the key reason for its success lies in the autonomy it granted its Indian unit, letting it run the business locally.

"Localisation in channel strategy, marketing and products has been evident in Xiaomi's Indian operations," Dutt said.

India has emerged as the top priority for electronics and software maker Xiaomi - above even the Chinese market, according to founder and chief executive Lei Jun. He said previously the company has adopted an "India No 1" strategy, which includes design, research and development, manufacturing and supply.

Xiaomi is far from being the only mainland-based smartphone company enjoying success in the world's second most populous country. Chinese mobile phone brands have in total seized more than a half of the local smartphone market.

The Canalys report said Vivo, Oppo and Lenovo rounded out the top five in the sales league table for the last quarter, each enjoying a 6 per cent share.

Chinese brands have disrupted the competitive landscape of India's smartphone segment in the last year, according to Tarun Pathak, associate director at Counterpoint.


"During the second half, players such as Xiaomi disrupted the status quo with an aggressive, broadly priced portfolio with effective channel expansion strategy. This helped Xiaomi to surpass the long-reigning market leader Samsung for the first time ever," said Pathak.

- South China Morning Post