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Is Xiaomi Taking Over from Apple?

David Burgundy | 14 Dec 2016

Xiaomi Inc is privately-owned Chinese company that designs, develops and sells smartphones, mobile apps, laptops and related consumer goods. According to Forbes, its founder, Lei Jun, is the 23rd-richest person in China. As of December 2014, Xiaomi was the world’s most valuable start-up, having been given USD 1.1 billion.

Apple, on the other hand, is considered the most valuable company in existence today. While Xiaomi is the top-producing smartphone manufacturer in Mainland China, Apple is the top manufacturer in the world, followed by Samsung and then Xiaomi. So while Xiaomi Inc is growing all the time, it seems that the iPhone will remain the dominant smartphone in North America.

A Fiercely Competitive Mobile Offering

Xiaomi MiThe Xiaomi team only launched its first smartphone in 2011, several years after Apple launched the first iPhone. This makes the fact that the devices of both companies are so similar even more impressive. By 2014 Xiaomi had sold over 60 million smartphones, and was the largest vendor in China. Beginning as a small start-up and then gathering serious momentum with superior products, the story of Xiaomi’s growth is not unlike the story of Apple’s, under the leadership of Steve Jobs. The Chinese company has also developed other consumer electronic products including a smart home Internet of Things device ecosystem.

Xiaomi’s online platform, MiUI, is similar to iOS and its smartphones look, perform and feel very similar to Apple’s iPhones. The flagship Mi Note, for example, is essentially equivalent to the iPhone 6. It might even be considered by some people to be superior with larger screens, cameras with a higher resolution and batteries with a longer life. These features make everything from playing mobile casino games to streaming movies more enjoyable, as the overall experience is enhanced. More importantly, the Mi Note retails for about half the price of an equivalent iPhone. Other products with slightly different specs, such as the Mi 5s and the Mi 5c, are also available at varying prices.

A Brand that Keeps Growing

Although Xiaomi handed out the latest Mi Note to a crowd of American reporters, the smartphone is not for sale in the United States. When the handset went on sale in China however, it sold out in less than four minutes, which gives some indication of how popular the technology is in this country and how successful moving into neighbouring countries might be.

Xiaomi alreadyMi tablets counts citizens of India, Malaysia, Singapore, Brazil, South Africa and other countries among its more than 8000 employees, so expanding sales into those countries seems like quite a natural step. With features, design and functionality so like Apple, and with the iPhone so firmly entrenched in North America, it seems that Xiaomi Inc has decided, at least for the time being, to leave that market alone. Since the company seems poised to dominate smartphone sales in the rest of the world, this only seems fair!