Few outside China are likely familiar with smartphone maker Xiaomi, but some analysts are already calling the company a potential threat in the long run to dominant players like Apple and Samsung.

“A lot of people refer to [Xiaomi] now as the Apple of China,” said Brian Blair, analyst at Rosenblatt Securities. “[Xiaomi] has definitely taken away from Apple’s share.”

In China, Samsung leads the market but Xiaomi (pronounced SHAO-MI) outsells Apple with its budget devices that closely resemble the iPhone and iPad mini. The parallels do not stop there. CEO Lei Jun strikes a Steve Jobs-like persona at launch events and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak even appeared on stage during a Xiaomi celebration in January.

Apple’s market strength will be tested this fall when it is expected to launch the iPhone 6 in China with a screen likely on par with the 5″ or larger displays from Xiaomi and Samsung that are popular in Asia, Blair said.

But with its Android-based devices, the Chinese company competes more directly with Samsung than Apple, analysts said.

Samsung dominated China’s smartphone market in 2013, with Xiaomi just ahead of Apple’s sixth-place standing, Forrester Research reported.

That ranking could change this year. Xiaomi beat Lenovo to second place in an ABI Research report on Chinese smartphone shipments for the first quarter, while Samsung still topped the list… see more

source: CNBC