Xiaomi, the Affordable Apple of China

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xiaomi team

Lei Jun, the founder of Xiaomi, and his team.

Xiaomi is a privately owned Chinese company headquartered in Beijing, China. Founded in 2010 by Lei Jun, Xiaomi is now the world’s 4th largest smartphone maker. Xiaomi designs and develops its own smartphones, mobile apps, and consumer electronics. It specifically targets China’s middle to lower-middle class market and has expanded internationally to countries like Malaysia, Singapore, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Brazil. The company’s founder and CEO is Lei Jun, China’s 23rd richest person according to Forbes. The company sold over 60 million smartphones in 2014.

Company Profile

Name: Xiaomi
Website: www.mi.com
Founder: Lei Jun (Net worth: 13.3 billion USD valued by Forbes)
Core Business: smartphones, consumer electronics, etc.

Basic Information

  • The company has over 8,000 employees and is now one of the third largest smartphone makers in the world followed by Lenovo and LG
  • Since the release of its first smartphone in August of 2011, Xiaomi has gained a significant market share in mainland China and has become the largest smartphone vendor in China as of 2014
  • In 2014, Xiaomi became the world’s most valuable technology start-up after it received US$1.1 billion funding from investors. This set Xiaomi’s valuation at more than US$46 billion.
  • Xiaomi has been expanding rapidly in India since 2014 and has even launched its own Mi Store App in India.
  • Xiaomi formed partnerships with Amazon.com, Snapdeal, Airtel Store, and The Mobile Store
  • Xiaomi ranks No. 2 in the list of 50 Smartest Companies 2015 by MIT Technology Review, noting that “the fast-growing smartphone vendor is maturing beyond its original ‘cut-price Apple’ model with ideas like flash sales over its mobile messaging platform”
  • Xiaomi managed to break the world record for “most mobile phones sold on a single online platform in 24 hours”, by selling 2,112,010 handsets through its direct-to-customer website Mi.com.

Products

  • Mobile Phones (Mi Series, Redmi Series, Mi Note)
  • MiPad (Tablet)
  • MIUI (operating system)
  • MiWiFi (network router)
  • MiTV (Smart TV line)
  • MiTV (Smart TV line)
  • MiCloud (cloud storage service)
  • MiTalk (messaging service)
  • MiPower Bank (external battery)
  • Mi Band (fitness monitor & sleep tracker)
  • Smart Home Products

Smartphones

Due to the design of some of Xiaomi products being highly similar to the design of Apple products, the brand has been unfavorably compared to American corporation Apple Inc. The MI Note series, for instance,  has been called the cheaper iPhone 6. Like the iPhone, the Mi Note features a 5.7-inch display and uses a dual-glass design with a 2.5D front and 3D rear glass. However, Xiaomi’s ability to customize its software based upon user preferences through the use of Google’s Android operating system is what sets it apart from Apple.

xiaomi-mi-note-official

The Xiaomi Note has been compared to Apple as the cheaper iPhone 6. However, Xiaomi’s ability to customize its software using Google Android is what sets it apart from Apple

1. Mi Series: Xiaomi’s premier smartphone
2. Redmi Series: a combination phone and tablet or “phablet”
3. Mi Note: A larger smartphone with a variety of uses and applications

Smart Home Devices

xiaomi smart home devices

TV, TV Box, and Tablet

xiaomi tv pad box

Timeline of Xiaomi’s TV system and iPad optimization

Market Share

The worldwide smartphone market grew 13.0% year over year in 2015 Q2, with 341.5 million shipments, according to data from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker. This growth is primarily due to gains experienced in emerging markets such as APEJ and MEA. Android dominated the market with an 82.8% share in 2015 Q2. Samsung reasserted its global leadership with a renewed focus on lower-cost smartphones.

IDC worldwide smartphone market share

IDC – Worldwide smartphone vendor market share from 2012 to 2015

Xiaomi is outnumbered in the global market, however. Apple recently lost its Chinese smartphone crown to Xiaomi in China, August of 2015. Between April to June 2015, Xiaomi regained its label as the largest smartphone vendor in China by capturing a 15.9% market share, according to numbers compiled by research firm Canalys. Huawei, another Chinese electronics manufacturer, follows close behind with a 15.7% share, and with an impressive 48% quarter-on-quarter growth. This made the company the fastest growing phone manufacturer amongst the top ten in the world.

Social Media Approach

Xiaomi is known as one of the most digital-savvy brands in China. Xiaomi has a unique digital strategy to engage its  Chinese smartphone audiences. From casual social networks like Qzone to emerging short-video platforms like Weishi – Xiaomi adapts its unique message to each platform, integrating their ecommerce system and driving purchase conversions. Xiaomi generates immense buzz on its social channels and through industry media. In order to reach more Chinese audiences and provide a more convenient ecommerce channels, Xiaomi not only launched ecommerce service on its own China website, but also entered Tmall (August, 2013) and JD.com (May, 2015).

xiaomi-phones

Xiaomi is one of China’s most digital savvy smartphones

In order to reach the right audiences, Xiaomi opens a number of Weibo accounts such as Xiaomi Corporation, Xiaomi Cell, Xiaomi MIMI, etc. to deliver official product launch news, tutorials and tips, and to collect user feedbacks.

Next Step

Besides the new model for Xiaomi’s Mi Series, Xiaomi also entered the phone carrier market by providing Xiaomi SIM card to China consumers. This product will be on market on Oct. 20th with a 4G network coverage and a smart SIM-card set (see below).

xiaomi simcard set

Xiaomi’s SIM-card set providing different sizes of SIM Cards for the variety of smartphones.

Xiaomi optimized their latest smart home system in 2015. This system included Mi TV 3 and Mi TV Main Board. To bring more joy to life, Xiaomi also introduced their “air wheel (self-balancing scooter” to expand the product lines. In terms of Xiaomi Mi5, the predecessor of Xiaomi Mi4, was rumored to release at this yearly event, however Xiaomi decided to postpone till the upcoming Chinese New Year.

About Author

Social Brand Watch (SBW) is a collection of experts in digital, mobile and social media in China. SBW was created to complement Resonance's China Social Branding Report, a bi-weekly report focusing on modern marketing methods of the world's top brands in China.

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