Xiaomi Inc. (Chinese: 小米科技; pinyin: Xiǎomĭ Kējì, literally “Xiaomi Tech”) is a privately owned company that designs, develops, and sells smartphones, apps, and consumer electronics.Since the release of its first smartphone in August 2011, Xiaomi has gained market share in mainland China and has expanded into developing a wider range of consumer electronics.
3 Criticisms and controversies
3.1 Apple culture
3.2 State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television issue
3.3 Hugo Barra
The name Xiaomi means millet (literally Xiao – “little”, mi – “rice”). In 2011, CEO Lei Jun suggested there are more meanings than just the “millet and rice.” He linked the “Xiao” part to the Buddhist concept that “A single grain of rice of a Buddhist is as great as a mountain,” suggesting Xiaomi wants to work from the little things, instead of starting by striving for perfection,while “Mi” is an acronym for Mobile Internet and also Mission Impossible, referring to the obstacles encountered in starting the company. He also stated that he thinks the name is cute. In 2012 President Lin Bin said that the name is about revolution and being able to bring innovation into a new area.Several sources have linked the latter meaning to the Communist Party of China’s “millet and rifle” (小米加步枪) revolutionary idiom during the Second Sino-Japanese War.
Seven partners co-founded Xiaomi on June 6, 2010. In the first round of funding, institutional investors included Temasek, a Singaporean government-owned investment vehicle, the Chinese venture capital funds IDG Capital and Qiming Venture Partners,and mobile processor developer Qualcomm.
On August 16, 2010, Xiaomi officially launched its first Android based user interface MIUI.
The Mi-One phone was announced in August 2011. It was shipped with Xiaomi’s MIUI user interface which is based on Android but resembles Apple’s iOS. The device could also be equipped with stock Android.
In August 2012 Xiaomi announced the MI2 phone. The phone was powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S4 Pro APQ8064, a 1.5 GHz quad-core Krait chip featuring by 2 GB of RAM and the Adreno 320 GPU. The company said on 24 September 2013 that the company had sold over 10 million MI2 devices over the preceding 11 months. The MI-2 phone are sold by wireless phone vendor Mobicity in Europe (including UK), New Zealand and Australia.
Some of Xiaomi products are manufactured by Foxconn, which also assembles Apple’s iPhones and iPads.
On 5 September 2013, CEO Lei Jun officially announced plans to launch an Android-based 47-inch 3D-capable Smart TV, which will be assembled by Sony TV manufacturer Wistron Corporation of Taiwan. The company explained the choice as to take advantage of Wistron’s skill as a supplier to Sony.
In September 2013, Xiaomi announced its MI3 phone, with one version powered by the Snapdragon 800 (MSM8974AB) and another by NVIDIA’s Tegra 4 chipset.
On 25 September 2013, Xiaomi announced plans to open its first ever retail store in Beijing.
By October 2013, Xiaomi was reported as the fifth most used smartphone brand in China.
Xiaomi’s mascot is a bunny wearing an Ushanka (locally known as a “Lei Feng hat” in China) with a red star and a red scarf around its neck.
Criticisms and controversies
The company’s marketing strategy is often described as riding on the back of the “cult of Apple” using a similar marketing strategy. After reading a book about Steve Jobs in college, Xiaomi’s chairman and CEO, Lei Jun, carefully cultivates a Steve Jobs image, including jeans and dark shirts, and Jobs’ style of product announcements.He has been categorized as a counterfeit Jobs.The company’s strategy has been categorized as counterfeiting philosophy, mindset and an icon. Despite repeated comparisons to Apple Inc.,
Xiaomi maintains that it espouses a different set of principles. Xiaomi has no retail stores nor does it partner with third-party distributors. Instead, all Xiaomi products are sold directly via the company’s website. Skeptics categorize the products as non-innovative low-price iPhone imitations that have no significant hardware or software advantages, and that any perception of innovation is good public relations. Others point out that while there are some similarities to Apple, the ability to customize the software based upon user preferences sets Xiaomi apart.
State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television issue
In November 2012 Xiaomi’s set-top box stopped working one week after the launch due to the company having run afoul of China’s State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television. The regulatory issues were overcome in January 2013.
In August 2013 the company announced that it was hiring Hugo Barra from Google where he served as vice president of product management for the Android platform, after the revelation that Google co-founder Sergey Brin was in a relationship with Barra’s ex-girlfriend. Barra has declined to comment on the unfortunate timing of the thorny situation regarding the Google relationships, and stated that he had been in talks with Xiaomi for over a year prior to announcing the move. He will be employed as vice president of Xiaomi Global, making Xiaomi the first company selling smartphones to poach a senior staffer from Google’s Android team. He will focus on helping Xiaomi to grow internationally.
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