When I heard the news that Google's Vice President of Android Product Management, Hugo Barra, was leaving Google to go to the Chinese company Xiaomi, my first question was, what in the world is Xiaomi? After doing some digging, I found that Xiaomi is a Chinese smart phone manufacturer, who has taken over the Chinese smart phone market. Xiaomi is also relatively new, they released their first smart phone in August of 2011, and have since been on a war path of expansion in mainland China, and now seems to be looking to take their popular phones outside the boundaries of China, hence Xiaomi's acquisition of Google executive Hugo Barra,
Xiaomi's current flagship device, known as the Mi-2S, is a 4.3 inch, 1.7 gHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 powered, 720P, smart phone, running Android 4.1 (Jelly Bean). Not too bad, but nothing groundbreaking for a phone released in June of this year (2013). It is also important to note that distinguished processor manufacturer Qualcomm, is also an investor in Xiaomi. Their devices are sleek, functional, and very visually appealing. Xiaomi is also known for using high quality components, and keeping production costs down, which translates to high quality devices, at low prices. Which surely is a distinguishing factor in the popularity they have in their homeland. They have been recognized as the "the Chinese version of Apple", employing similar marketing strategies, and even their CEO, Lei Jun, being regarded as the "China's Steve Jobs". Xiaomi, does not partner with third-party distributors, nor do they use retail stores, instead, all devices are sold through Xiaomi's website.
Barra, who's been in integral part of Android since 2008, is set to be Vice President of Xiaomi Global, which means he will more than likely be tasked with putting Xiaomi smartphones into the hands of Android users across the globe. Hugo Barra, is not the first executive to jump ship to this Chinese company. Xiaomi also employs former executives from companies like Motorola, and Microsoft. Barra is also not the first Google executive to leave recently. Melissa Mayer, longtime Google spokesperson and VP, left to become the CEO of Yahoo!. Andy Rubin has also been strangely out of the Google/Android spotlight and it is really unclear where he is in the company at this point. And with recent rumors of a Google executive, being considered as the next CEO of Microsoft, following the departure of Steve Ballmer, he very well may not be the last.