Xiaomi sold more than 146 million smartphones worldwide in 2020. The products of the Chinese tech company are especially popular in their own country. Yet Xiaomi decided to take a different course. Nowadays, the once so successful tech start-up is increasingly starting to market itself as a lifestyle brand like the Japanese Muji. But Xiaomi is also working on OLED TVs, apps and even its own electric car.
Why was Xiaomi such a revolutionary smartphone brand?
- The word ‘Xiaomi’ means millet in Mandarin. That is a kind of small grain cereal. The Chinese Lei Jun came up with the name in 2010 when he founded the tech startup with six employees in Beijing.
- The now 51-year-old Lei currently owns about $ 23.8 billion.
- Xiaomi was one of the first tech companies to succeed in partially breaking the dominance of the major players in the smartphone market. It did that with cheap smartphones that could still deliver a fairly high quality to users.
- Previously, Xiaomi’s MIUI (Mi User Interface) system made waves in the markets. That was a proprietary concoction of the Android operating system that was highly customizable and open to further customization.
- Xiaomi’s first smartphone, the Mi 1, was pre-ordered 300,000 times in China within 34 hours of its announcement.
- In a few years, Xiaomi became the top seller of smartphones in China with its democratically priced smartphones and convenient operating system.
- Xiaomi only entered the European market in 2018. By 2019, the Chinese company launched three smartphones on the Belgian market.
The centipede of innovation:
- Domestic rivals in particular are starting to chew on Xiaomi’s success. Players such as Hauwei, OPPO, Vivo and BBK Electronics are starting to gobble up Xiaomi’s market share.
- “Xiaomi never wanted to be exclusively a producer of smartphones,” Lei told the state newspaper in 2016 China Daily. ‘Our goal is to offer quality products at a low price’.
- From 2016, the company starts to focus on lifestyle products such as wearable smart devices, as well as goods such as luggage and even umbrellas. Xiaomi’s rice cookers and air filters are also doing well in the domestic market.
- At the end of March, Xiaomi announced that it also plans to deliver its first electric car by 2023.
- Last year, the company also unveiled an OLED TV that it will market at a reasonable $ 2,000 price tag.
- Xiaomi is also increasingly looking outside of China. Although it still has the most stores domestically (around 1,800), it dropped one in 2018 Guinness World Record by opening most stores in India at the same time. In November, 500 Xiaomi stores opened there on the same day. All over the world, Xiaomi has about 6,000 points of sale.
- Today, Xiaomi offers more than 40 different products in its stores, and not all of them are tech-related.
Xiaomi still remains a giant in smartphones for now and delivers according to StatCounter even the most used smartphones in India are declining. But the company continues to experiment feverishly.
For example, Xiaomi recently tried to add live audio features to its MiTalk messenger app, with which it wanted to compete with the social media platform Clubhouse. The latter has been banned in China, which can seriously disrupt Xiaomi’s plans in that area.