In 2014, Chinese company Xiaomi became the world’s third smartphone seller, with 61.12 million smartphones sold. That constitutes growth of 227% for a firm whose sales tripled in 2014. Xiaomi has built a successful business that’s largely based on listening to consumers and engaging marketing, combined with high-quality devices at low prices thanks to online sales. The company, which sold its first phone just over three years ago, has also been moving into other personal and home devices that would be compatible with Xiaomi phones, helping it retain users.
Xiaomi’s main competitors are Apple and Samsung, but the Chinese mark is more a real threat to Apple: at 2299 yuan ($371), Xiaomi’s Mi Note costs almost two-thirds less than Apple's iPhone 6 Plus, its most direct rival.
The situation of Xiaomi now
Xiaomi’s leadership is undeniable: 5 out of 8 of the most-activated Android phones in China are Xiaomi handsets, the Mi 1 sold 7.9 million, the Mi 2 sold 17.4 million, the Mi 3 sold 14.3 million, and the Redmi has sold around 30 million. The Redmi Note, which launched in March of last year, has sold about 13 million units. Xiaomi has already surpassed Samsung and Apple as the first smartphone supplier in China (which is the world’s largest smartphone market). So right now, we can say the Chinese firm is one of the world’s most valuable companies. As Xiaomi’s CEO Lei Jun declared, “From chasing other players in the industry, we are now being pursued by others.” To recognize the success of his company, Forbes Asia named him Businessman of the Year. But a part of this success can be attributed to the incorporation of ex Vice President of Android Hugo Barra to the group as Vice President of International in September 2013.
The Xiaomi principles? Focusing on product innovation, create high-quality, high-performance devices that provide great user experience and a strategic planning for their ecosystem to bring a more complete user experience to Xiaomi fans across the world. The company has already expanded successfully to seven other countries and regions, like India. One of the objectives of Barra when he joined the firm was global expansion outside of China, and in fact they plan to enter more overseas markets this year. However, Xiaomi is not interested in launching any products in the US market yet. Nevertheless, Lei’s goal is to “bring our products, proudly designed and made in China, everywhere, as we believe innovation is for everyone.”
The company has recently hosted a press conference in San Francisco with both Xiaomi’s President Lei and Global Vice President Hugo Barra present at the event. The main objective of the conference was to introduce the growing company to those who don’t know it very well yet.
The San Francisco event
On February 12th, Xiaomi held a press conference to speak about the company, their products and to make clear that they are not just a smartphone manufacturer, but also a front-runner in smart home technology, a provider of mobile Internet content and a platform for Internet services. And of course, it was also a great opportunity to become known in a country where you can get a lot of investors. After all, Xiaomi has a whole ecosystem behind and plenty of spin off products that may hold to key opening up other regional markets in the future.
Xiaomi’s CEO first talked about the fast growth of Xiaomi’s Android skin, the MIUI operative system, which as Hugo Barra later said, ships default on all of Xiaomi’s Mi phones, but is also compatible with 347 model phones across 96 brands. MIUI began with around 100 users in August 2010, and it has now more than 100 million users. With more than 225 updates already, MIUI is updated on a weekly basis to satisfy the users’ demand. Barra explained how the MIUI OS is built specifically for the Chinese market, including optimized T9 input for Chinese, a silent first ring for unknown numbers, and the inclusion of personalized group chats with nicknames. After that, he compared the MIUI features withApple’s iOS 8.
Then, the Mi Note was compared directly to Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus. Barra pointed out that the Xiaomi’s device is thinner and lighter than Apple’s, and has a screen 2 inches larger. Additionally, the Mi Note supports both micro and nano SIM cards.
Lei and Barra also spoke about their marketing strategy, pointing that they try to keep the number of models low to reduce costs and that they sell all of their products directly online, which also helps decrease costs. With more than 2,765 workers answering calls, 24/7 support and an average delivery shipping time of 1.8 days, the company offers a premium user service. Plus, 19 hour express delivery is also available in 22 cities.
Finally, Barra confirmed that Xiaomi smartphones and tablets won’t arrive at the US this year, but that the company is thinking about bringing Mi.com to the US, so other kind of products might arrive soon.