In brief: Apple is one of the biggest smartphone makers in the world, and one of the most well-known tech firms, to boot. However, in terms of pure smartphone sales, it seems like the company may have had its crown taken in Q3 2020. Analysts claim that Chinese phonemaker Xiaomi has pushed past Apple into the "No. 3" position for the first time ever, with a whopping 12.1 percent market share and roughly 44.4 million sales.
Apple, on the other hand, maintained a market share of around 11.1 percent, with Q3 smartphone sales totaling nearly 40.6 million. The percent difference between these two companies is small, and might not seem too significant upon a cursory glance.
However, if you dig a little deeper, Xiaomi's explosive growth becomes far more impressive. This time last year, the phonemaker only had a market share of 8.5 percent, with Q3 shipments approaching the 33 million unit mark. According to Gartner's research, that's a sales boost of almost 35 percent. Apple, however, shipped fewer devices in Q3 2020 than it did in 2019, seeing a sales drop of around 0.6 percent.
Of course, Apple cannot be wholly blamed here. The Covid-19 pandemic has devastated global markets, resulting in both shipping and manufacturing delays. With this in mind, the company certainly has a valid excuse for declining smartphone sales, though it's peculiar to see Xiaomi excel where Apple is flagging (if only slightly).
Gartner researcher Anshul Gupta attributes the Chinese company's success to "near normal conditions" in China, as well as a sudden release of "pent-up demand" from previous quarters (when lockdowns and stay-at-home orders were more common).
Apple will likely bounce back from this minor slump in the coming months, as the world continues to recover from (and adapt to) the Covid-19 pandemic.