Xiaomi has been making news the past couple days, especially with the hiring of Google Executive Hugo Barra as Vice President of Xiaomi Global. This three-year-old company sold smartphones in only China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, but with Barra's hiring, this is a clear indication they expect to go international.
In a video interview with Reuters, Founder and CEO Lei Jun, he explains their strategies and the many misconceptions about Xiaomi. When asked about being called "The Apple of China," he smiles and explains that if a comparison is to be made, they would be more like the "Amazon of China," because they started on the internet to get their infrastructure going and now use that to their advantage to sell smartphones, software, and other services.
Whatever they are doing, they appear to be doing it correctly, as they experienced rapid growth rate for a company that is only three years old and are already worth $10 billion or about that of another China company, Lenovo. The video below will give you an idea of Xiaomi's fantastic growth rate. CEO Lei Jun gives us an insight to how he views his company – he compares their phones and internet business to what Kindle is to Amazon.
Xiaomi is an Android phone, however, unlike Samsung, HTC, LG, and Sony, which put a "thin layer" of their own User Interface (UI), Xiaomi actually uses an Android like ROM to completely change Androids appearance, making it look very Apple iOSish in design – another reason they are compared to Apple.
Xiaomi's flagship Mi 2S was the most popular phone sold in China during the first half of 2013, followed by the Samsung Galaxy S4, although they still trail Samsung in market share. The company continues to grow and is gaining a loyal fan base by allowing them to have input on the design of their Android skins, called miUI. As they increase production, they may soon become one of Foxconn's top five customers.
Their latest device is called the "Big Rice," with a 4.7-inch 720 IPS display, a quad-core design based on MediaTek's most powerful MT6589T chip, where you get an upper mid-range smartphone at the price, $130 off contract, of a low-end phone. Check out the video below:
Xiaomi plans to sell high-end smartphones for at or slightly above what the phone costs them to produce, $130 – $278, and then make their money on software and services. Whether this business strategy will work or not remains to be seen, and how those plans may change with the addition of Barra in the mix – but we should not have to wait too long as Xiaomi plans a big press conference on September 5. We cannot wait to see what this fascinating company has in store for the future.