German camera maker Leica inked a partnership agreement with Xiaomi for mobile imaging after ending a seven-year partnership with Huawei Technologies Co, whose smartphone business has been hit hard by US sanctions.
After some earlier rumors, Xiaomi on Monday confirmed its global strategic partnership with Leica for a next generation of imaging smartphone, scheduled to be release in July.
“Our company focuses on creating the ultimate user experience, and has always hoped to explore the capabilities of smartphone photography to the extreme,” said Lei Jun, Xiaomi’s founder, chairman and chief executive.
If the partnership agreement is similar to the one signed with Huawei, it will likely be a licensing arrangement for the use of Leica’s brand name and select Leica filters and effects.
Huawei inked a partnership agreement with Leica in 2015 and released their first smartphone a year later, two parties ended their seven-year partnership in March this year.
Huawei Technologies Co., formerly China’s biggest smartphone vendor, has been struggling with supplier restrictions imposed by the U.S since May 2019, the company fell out of the country’s top five smartphone vendor on shipment rankings for the first time in July 2021.
Huawei, which briefly overtook Apple and Samsung Electronics in global smartphone sales in 2020, saw smartphone shipments slump by 81 percent year-over-year in 2021, according to data released by Odmi.
Data from Counterpoint also showed that Huawei is the 6th largest smartphone in China with only 6.2 percent of the total market share in the first quarter of 2022, which is so far away from its peak time-holding 41% market share in the third quarter of 2020.
Like other sectors, China’s smartphone sector has been seriously affected by supply chain disruptions amid Covid-19 lockdowns. In the first quarter, total shipments from the top five smartphone vendors in the mainland – Apple, Xiaomi, Oppo, Vivo and Honor – dropped 18 per cent year on year to 75.6 million units, according to research firm Canalys.
In the period, Xiaomi shipped 38.5 million smartphones globally, down 10.5 per cent from a year ago. The company booked a smartphone revenue of 45.8 billion yuan (US$6.88 million), down 11 per cent.