There’s a mobile phone company that many people outside China have never even heard of. It’s called Xiaomi and it has become the world’s most valuable technology start-up just four years since it was founded in 2010, now valued at $45 billion.
Xiaomi, often called the “Apple of China” rose to prominence after it successfully emulated the design Apple’s devices, catering to a burgeoning middle class in China that has money to spend on good looking phones. But Apple’s Sir Jony Ive, their chief design guru from England, wasn’t too pleased with their blatant ‘copying’ of the iPhone when he spoke on a panel.
I’ll stand a little bit harsh, I don’t see it as flattery. When you’re doing something for the first time, you don’t know it’s gonna work, you spend 7 or 8 years working on something, and then it’s copied. I think it is really straightforward. It is theft and it is lazy. I don’t think it is ok at all – Jony Ive, Apple
Xiaomi is number three in the world
Nevertheless, the company has risen to become one of the top smartphone manufacturers in the world, and has just raised more than $1 billion in its latest funding round giving it a market valuation of around $45 billion. Not bad for a start-up.
This is an affirmation of Xiaomi’s stellar results in four years, and heralds a new phase for the company – Bin Lin, CEO
The company is currently ranked third in the world’s smartphone stakes in terms of unit sales, spurred on by devices such as the Mi 3 and Mi 4 which are powerful Android phones with features such as a quad core CPU, 2 GB of RAM and a Full HD display. The phones it makes are high quality devices that have found favour with Chinese customers but increasingly in international markets too.
Xiaomi is not having it all their own way however, as it’s already faced some patent infringement challenges from Ericsson in India this month, which led to sales being temporarily halted.
For the 2014 financial year they have a target of 60 million smartphone sales, an increase of 40 million from the previous year. If they keep on growing like that, they will no doubt become the number 2 smartphone manufacturer before long. The Beijing-based company is expected to unveil a new smartphone in January according to a post on Weibo, but it’s not known whether it will be a new Mi phone, a tablet or even a laptop, as some have speculated.