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This Chinese phone maker wants to crush Samsung, and take its throne

Xiaomi may not be a name that’s all that familiar to you, but the smartphone manufacturer is selling a lot of hardware in China, and the select few other markets where its phones are available. New data shows it’s pushing the brands we know aside in its home territory, and the CEO is feeling very positive about the future, to the point where he confidently talks about becoming the world’s number one smartphone manufacturer, perhaps in just five years time.

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CEO Lei Jun spoke at the World Internet Conference in China, and discussed Xiaomi’s incredible progress since its formation in 2010. Lei said there are 70 million Xiaomi users at the moment, and if current growth patterns remain true, that number will become 200 million next year. Ambitiously, he said the opportunity was there for momentum to carry the firm to the world’s number one spot, overtaking Samsung and Apple. He estimated it could happen in five to ten years time.

A local transcript of the speech quotes Lei on the subject of an international launch for Xiaomi products. He indicates only when the firm becomes the world’s number one manufacturer will it have the ability to expand globally. Bloomberg describes a frantic scene at the conference during and soon after Lei’s keynote speech, to which he arrived late and spoke for just three minutes. He didn’t stick around afterwards, and reporters pursued him out of the room to ask further questions.

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Xiaomi is China’s number one smartphone manufacturer, and new data revealed by Baidu, China’s biggest search engine, shows it’s still growing. What’s interesting is Xiaomi’s growth isn’t at the expense of other local brands such as Oppo and Huawei, but at LG, Sony, Samsung and Apple. Xiaomi has recently launched its products in India, under the watch of former Google VP Hugo Barra, which Lei says is already becoming its largest overseas market. Projections suggest India’s smartphone market will be have the largest growth in the world next year.

Even with its front row seat in these two highly important markets, how likely is Xiaomi to become world number one? The most recent data puts its global market share at 5 percent, compared to Samsung’s 25 percent and Apple’s 11 percent, so it still has plenty of work to do.