Xiaomi’s preparing to make a comeback with latest marquee phone
The company has moved away from its roots as an online purveyor of cheap devices since local rivals from Oppo to Huawei Technologies Co began to dominate the Chinese market with higher-end gadgets. Co-founder Lei Jun is going after his rivals not just with increasingly tricked-out phones, but also by adopting the nationwide store networks that super-charged the Oppo and Vivo brands. The company remains on track to open 1,000 stores within three years across China, and expects to chalk up 70bil yuan (RM44.71bil) of sales through that physical network in five years.
”Xiaomi has faced some growth pressure over the past years because of our online-only model,” Lei told his launch audience. “I’m excited to say we’ve made a breakthrough.”
The billionaire co-founder is overhauling his company’s approach to regain its perch atop the world’s largest smartphone arena – it was ranked No 5 in China in 2016 according to researcher IDC. Since becoming the country’s largest startup in 2014 with a valuation of U$45bil (RM197.91bil), the company began to slide the next year when it missed shipments targets. While taking a pounding at home, Xiaomi began to expand globally. Lei said the brand is now No 2 in India, behind only Samsung Electronics Co. It’s also begun to deepen research into areas as diverse as artificial intelligence and online finance. It applied for 7,071 patents last year, and total patents will “soon” exceed 10,000,” Lei said.
For now, the company still gets much of its revenue from its home market. In January, former international head Hugo Barra left and then joined Facebook Inc, raising questions about Xiaomi’s ability to navigate its way through what Lei had described as “unforgettable” challenges. — Bloomberg