When it comes to choosing smartphone brands consumers will usually go with what is popular. The choices usually consist of Samsung, LG, Sony, Motorola, and HTC just to name a few. Then there are other lesser known brands such as Gionee, iOcean, Oppo, Meizu, and Xiaomi. The last company in particular is quite interesting as it has been operating for only 3 years and is currently the 4th biggest brand in China and even has two models in the top ten global best-selling smartphone list as of February 2014.
Those living outside of China might not have heard of Xiaomi and we can’t blame them as the company has a very select market right now. Xiaomi devices are officially only available in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore. Despite its seemingly small market penetration the company has been consistently selling out its devices once it hits the market. In China, the company is oftentimes called the “Apple of China” due to its high quality devices.
Xiaomi was founded in 2010 by ex-Kingsoft CEO Lei Jun. The company didn’t start out as a hardware company instead concentrating on software and developing a custom ROM based on Google’s Android operating system. This became known as the MIUI ROM and enhanced the Android OS while making it easier to use. MIUI became a hit and right now has been ported in over 200 devices. At the end of 2013 reports indicate that 30 million devices around the world are using MIUI.
The company entered the hardware business in 2011 with the announcement of the Mi One phone. This was a high-end smartphone back then that sported a 4 inch display, Qualcomm Snapdragon S3 dual core, 1.5 GHz processor, and an Adreno 220 GPU. While most models in the market at that time with similar specs were priced at more than $600 the Mi One only cost $310. This model became quite popular and as of January 2012 has sold 500,000 units.
The company started selling hardware at this point and in 2012 7.2 million smartphones were shipped. This number grew in 2013 with 18.7 million smartphones were shipped. For the first quarter of his year the company has already sold 11 million smartphones, more than their entire 2012 record.
Because of its rise in popularity the company was able to hire Hugo Barra (a former Google executive) who is now tasked to look for new markets for the company. The plan right now is to release Xiaomi devices in the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, and India. What’s not yet confirmed is the European and U.S. market expansion.
Aside from smartphones the company also has smart TVs. Wi-Fi routers and if rumors are true Android tablets.
Xiaomi is definitely one of the companies to look out for in 2014 as it continues to expand into other markets.