Apple Needs To Start Taking Xiaomi Seriously

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By Jacob Maslow

asian woman using smartphone
Asian woman using smartphone

Xiaomi, the upstart three year-old Chinese mobile phone company is taking the world of smartphones by storm. It is kicking butt and taking names. Seriously. And it is doing all this is in the one market that forms the soft vulnerable underbelly of global smartphone leaders’ Samsung and Apple-China. Call it home field advantage. Call it beginner’s luck. Whatever you call it, Xiaomi has it and it is kicking up quite a storm. Just how big of a deal is Xiaomi in China? Let’s put it this way, Xiaomi is racking up so much sales in its home country that it is globally ranked third in sales. Think about that for a moment: a three year-old company already ranked third.

If the story ended here, Apple and Samsung could be forgiven for ignoring Xiaomi. After all, weren’t there previous flash in pan brands that seemed to storm the gates of Apple’s smartphone market dominance only to falter and fade back into generic phone brand obscurity? HTC ring a bell? Well, with Xiaomi, it is different. Xiaomi actually doesn’t look at itself as a cheap seller of cheap phones. It sees itself as an experience. It acts and looks like it has its own distinct gravitational field as far as its brand is concerned. You only need to look at how it has manhandled its rivals in the Chinese market to see how this ‘youth brand’ is morphing into something Samsung and Apple might not be able to contain.
Xiaomi’s secret is that it has really zeroed in on the Chinese market’s distinct tastes. It doesn’t just price its phones at dirt cheap levels. It doesn’t just morph Android software to something friendlier to the average Chinese mobile phone user. It does all this and more. It does so with a missionary spirit-it is out to prove something. It appears that its fans share that mission. This is the biggest challenge to Apple and Samsung. Think of Xiaomi as the Apple of China without the hefty price tag and ‘us cool kids’ snobbishness. Low price and cult appeal. All I can say is ‘Watch out, Apple!’
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