It is the 6th of April 2010, the day Xiaomi began its official existence. Founded by a group of eight visionaries, the Xiaomi brand began its quest to take the tech industry by storm. Lei Jun became the face of the company, taking the role of CEO, backed by six other visionaries, coming from Google China, Motorola, Kingsoft, and the Beijing R&D center.
Even before founding the company, Xiaomi had a clear business plan. It was to sell hardware at no or very little profit and ensure sustainability by selling services and content. With a sound business model and seven highly influential founders, Xiaomi secured capital from several major investors. Qualcomm, IDG Capital, and Temasek Holdings were amongst the first to invest in Xiaomi.
Right from the beginning, Xiaomi began working on its custom UI for Android smartphones. On August 16th, 2010, MIUI was officially launched. Being a company focused on turning a profit trough services and software, launching the MIUI firmware as a first product instead of a smartphone, made sense for Xiaomi. In parallel, Xiaomi was preparing the launch of its first smartphone that came by the mid of 2011.
In May 2011, Lei Jun, the CEO of the company, make the first call with a smartphone manufactured by Xiaomi, thus Xiaomi Mi 1 was introduced to the world. The smartphone was made available with Xiaomi’s MIUI or the stock Android version. It featured high-end specs and a very low price tag, thus picking up on sales almost immediately.
Following the success of the first Mi phone, in 2012, Xiaomi launched the Xiaomi Mi2 smartphone following the same model. It was a top-spec phone sold for a very modest price. It continued the ascending sales trend of the company and ensured cash flow to allow the development of other products besides smartphones and software.
2012 was also the year in which Xiaomi managed to break out of China and expand to other markets. Their first targets were Australia, the United States, New Zealand, and Europe. A total of 8.7 million Xiaomi smartphones were sold in 2012.
In late 2013, Xiaomi announced its plans to start making Android-based smart TVs in a partnership with Wistron Corporation, which was also making TVs for Sony. Shortly after, Xiaomi launched the Mi 3 smartphone, closing the year with a total number of handheld sold of 18.7 million. It is the year in which Xiaomi became the fifth most popular smartphone brand in China.
2014 was an even more impressive year for Xiaomi. They managed to establish international headquarters in multiple locations across the globe which accelerated sales of their Mi 3 flagship phone. In April of the same year, the Redmi Note was launched to offer an affordable alternative to more expensive phablets.
As Xiaomi continued to expand, a new round of funding was secured. Approximately 1 billion dollars was injected by multiple investors and reaching a market valuation of $45 billion.
Xiaomi closed 2014 with a total number of smartphones sold of 60 million and the acquisition of mi.com domain for $3.6 million in their portfolio.
The next move from Xiaomi was to break into India. In April 2015, the company began selling its phones online in India and later on expanded to Brazil, where it would also begin manufacturing their Redmi 2 phones. At the end of the year, Xiaomi sold 71 million smartphones after adjusting their targets several times.
The Fall and Rise
2016 was one of the worst years for Xiaomi. Smartphone sales plunged. Analysts did not hesitate to show their skepticism in the recovery of the company. No other tech giant recovered from such a fall. In just one year, Xiaomi dropped from first to fifth place in China. Due to the poor sales, Xiaomi exited the Brazilian market.
2017 would come and prove the analysts wrong. Xiaomi continued to expand and released new phones. The gem of the crowd was the MI A1 which was the first Android One smartphone wearing the text: “Created by Xiaomi, Powered by Google”.
As the year went by, Xiaomi continued to recover. It managed to surpass Samsung in sales in India and picked up sales in other key regions as well.
2018 continued on the same tone. Xiaomi launched several new smartphones and numerous new devices such as power banks, Bluetooth speakers, appliances and smart home gadgets. It is also the year in which Xiaomi became a publicly-traded company.
Xiaomi Product Range Expansions
Xiaomi began as a hardware and software company but it turned into a tech giant that makes hundreds of different products. Smartphones were the product that put the company on the map. As the company expanded, new products were added in their portfolio. Not many know but Xiaomi even makes clothing.
One other product range the company is known for is their action cameras which offer a cheaper alternative to GoPro cameras. Xiaomi made the logical move of making automotive dash cams using the same technology as for their action cameras.
Bigger profit makers for the company are household smart gadgets. This includes Bluetooth speakers, Android-based smartphones, security cameras, motion sensors, smart door locks, and many others. Big profit makers are also their smartphone accessories such as power banks, cables, and chargers.
Software is the most important aspect that connects all their devices. Xiaomi continued to develop its software eco-system that would offer the same ease of use as Apple products. It offers additional services that customers can pay for such as cloud storage, paid apps and many more.
Recently, Xiaomi further strengthens its position in the fintech industry by securing a virtual banking license in Hong Kong. This would enable the tech giant to further develop mobile payment apps, debit cards, and other financial products in the near future.
A Genuine Success Story…
Xiaomi has been called the Apple of China. With high-quality products and low sale prices, Xiaomi continues to grow in sales, scope, and scale with each passing year. Looking back at their beginnings, what Xiaomi managed to achieve is nothing short of amazing. 10,000 new businesses are started in China every day. Xiaomi managed to be that one company out of millions that would expand beyond China and become a global tech giant.
Being a large tech company is not enough. Xiaomi followed a strict business plan and managed to remain profitable. At the same time, it attracted investors and raised no less than $13 billion across 8 funding rounds. Their public listing in 2018 was also a success, making it one of the most valuable brands and companies in the world and all of this was achieved in less than a decade.