Neither Samsung nor Apple started out as a smartphone company. In fact, both were founded before smartphones existed. They were started in 1938 and 1976 respectively and have grown impressively since then.
Huawei has long been one of the biggest companies in China. Based in Shenzhen, the tech capital of China, the company is currently the largest telecommunications equipment provider on the planet. In 2010, Fast Company voted them the 5th most innovative company in the world and yet a lot of Americans haven’t heard of them. The Nexus 6P, manufactured by Huawei and released in 2015 gained the company more mainstream attention in the west and made Android fans realize that the company was serious about mobile hardware.
What makes the company so exciting is the level of innovation which they are showing in the area of mobile devices. It ranks among only a few companies, including Apple and Samsung that make their own SoC (System on a Chip) and it features on their latest flagship, the Mate 10. This is a serious investment and deserves careful attention from rivals. Arguably the Kirin 970’s most exciting feature is the NPU (Neural Processing Unit.) The iPhone 8, X and Google Pixel 2 are examples of other early adopters of NPUs. The fact that Huawei is listed with these two phone designers in terms of innovation is impressive enough.
Huawei has a huge market presence in its home country and is currently aiming to be the market leader for smartphones in India. Both these countries have huge emerging markets and by leading them Huawei could become the next Apple or Samsung.
The other company of interest in this regard is Xiaomi. Also from China, Xiaomi has less of a history than Huawei. In fact, it’s still an infant in human years. Founded in 2010, the company has risen to being the 5th largest smartphone maker in the world in only seven years! The company had a 6.4% market share in Q2 of 2017, that’s only 5% behind Apple, a company which the majority of Americans would know.
Xiaomi is like Samsung in the fact that it has a huge range of products. The Mi store sells everything from phones to smart appliances to smart toothbrushes and they all fit into the Mi ecosystem too.
Their price model is unlike Samsung’s or Apple’s as they sell products with much lower margins to accommodate to a larger market. The hardware is known for its surprising build quality for price ratio and although most reviewers would agree that Xiaomi’s mobile OS needs work they have come a long way in the few years that they have been around.
Xiaomi is currently working on getting support from more US LTE bands and carries and they have recently announced a branching out in the market for Spain. This confirms that Xiaomi is not just interested in becoming a Chinese phenomenon but becoming the next Apple or Samsung.
Although it is very unlikely that Samsung and Apple will both fall out of existence at the same time and that the holes will be filled by individual successors it is likely, however, that they will lose their grip on their market share eventually. The most likely contenders to steal those percentages will be Huawei and Xiaomi.
These companies have been heavily criticized for imitating the likes of Apple and Samsung and although they may still come under that judgment they can also be applauded for their innovation both in products and business strategies.
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