The Xiaomi Mi Note is the best phone you can’t have

Mi Note lead

The Verge (by Chris Ziegler):

The smartphone business is notorious for eating companies alive. Even giants of industry have fallen: Sony is on the cusp of throwing in the towel on its phone division, Nokia is now out of the game entirely after having been the largest manufacturer of phones in the world as recently as 2011, and even smartphone-centric companies like HTC are struggling. Yet somehow, there are a few upstarts that are navigating these treacherous, Samsung- and Apple-infested waters — sometimes with enormous success.

Somewhere in this technological New Wave lies Xiaomi, a Chinese firm founded in 2010 that has become impossible to ignore. That’s driven partly by its unapologetic Apple mimicry: its marketing, product strategy, and design aesthetic all borrow elements from Cupertino’s playbook. It’s also driven partly by the high-profile hiring of former Android boss Hugo Barra from Google. But increasingly, it’s driven simply by the fact that Xiaomi is making genuinely interesting products. And at a valuation north of $40 billion, it’s apparently doing something right.

Xiaomi must think so too, because it has just embarked on a US media tour handing out the Mi Note, the company’s 2015 flagship, a phone that isn’t even intended for US sale. Specifically seeking out grizzled US tech journalists to check out your phone — journalists who grind through pitch-perfect iPhones, Galaxy Notes, and HTC Ones all year — shows a certain level of bravado.

The company will open an online store in the US later in 2015, but it’ll only sell accessories like headphones and fitness bands; in the lead-up to that, the Mi Note is intended to be a showcase of what this five-year-old company is capable of. And, yes, if the Mi Note is well received, perhaps it foretells an American phone release down the road. For now, we’re just getting a taste. (In fact, the model being distributed doesn’t support US LTE bands, so I wasn’t able to do a full-on review; there’s no battery test here, but I’ve been able to compile some thoughts on the hardware and software.)

I’d describe the design of the Mi Note as an amalgam of the iPhone 5 and the Galaxy Note 4, with a little bit of Xiaomi originality mixed in. That’s not a knock — it really works quite well, marrying large glossy surfaces on the front and rear with a thin metal rim along the edges. On the back, the left and right sides slope abruptly, which gives the phone something different from the bog-standard “thin, large rectangle” profile. The volume rocker on my unit is a little fidgety, and the metal edges are too sharp, but otherwise, there’s absolutely nothing about the Mi Note that screams “low-end,” “knockoff,” or any other derogatory term that you might hurl at a brand you’ve never heard of. It’s solidly built; there’s no creaking. Seams where glass meets metal are tight and even. I’m surprising myself by saying this, but if Samsung or LG had released this phone, I wouldn’t bat an eye — it’s that good. It looks and feels like a device from a company that’s been doing this for a long time.

That’s not to say it’s perfect: the Mi Note’s design lacks the je ne sais quoi that bumps a design from good to great. When I think back to the phone designs that have truly dropped my jaw — the original RAZR, the original iPhone, perhaps the iPhone 4 — the Mi Note lacks that kind of unmistakable originality that moves the needle. Xiaomi borrowed the best of everything, rather than creating it: the laser-drilled speaker grille, the glass / metal sandwich, the corner-mounted rear camera with dual-tone flash. Certainly, two or three years ago the Mi Note would’ve dropped jaws, but today, it’s generic and sterile. It’s impressively sterile, granted, but it’s sterile nonetheless.

The same argument applies to the display, a 5.7-inch LCD with 1080p resolution that works out to 386 ppi. My middle-aged eyes are far from perfect, but the time has long since passed where I can tell the difference between the best and the fifth-best phone screen on the planet. To me, the Mi Note’s display looks just about as perfect as a display can: it’s laminated so that the screen looks flush with the glass, viewing angles are basically 180 degrees, and the colors are so vibrant that they have an almost OLED quality to them. And unless you have superhuman vision, there’s no way you’re going to be making out individual pixels. One area where the Mi Note falls short is brightness: with the slider maxed out, it’s still a little dim in bright daylight.

There are a couple tricks on the screen worth talking about, though: for one, the Mi Note has a glove mode that lets you fumble through the UI when you’re wearing gloves. (A number of modern phones have started incorporating this ultra-valuable feature, but not the iPhone.) There’s also a mode that will automatically lock the phone when you drop it in a pocket, saving yourself from the specter of a butt-dial, or worse yet, a butt-text. With my thick leather gloves, I found that I could get by — it probably only registered 60 or 70 percent of my taps, but when it’s 10 degrees out and you just need to check your email or dial someone, it’ll get the job done.

I wasn’t as impressed with the camera. It’s not bad by Android standards, but pictures looked a bit blurrier (perhaps thanks in part to noise reduction) and more washed-out than those taken with an iPhone 6 Plus. The Mi Note features a Sony-sourced 13-megapixel sensor — I suspect it’s the same component used on many Android phones over the past couple product cycles — along with optical image stabilization, HDR, and a burst mode that absolutely rips when you hold down the shutter button.

The 2.5GHz Snapdragon 801 and 3GB of RAM seem to keep things moving along at a nice clip, though I was underwhelmed with MIUI’s built-in web browser — it stuttered and lagged through a variety of sites that I visit on a regular basis. Needless to say, you’re going to want to use Chrome.

 

Mi Note

Speaking of Chrome, an important point: “Chinese Android phone” conjures visions of vast gray-market app stores, but Xiaomi is very much on the up-and-up, at least on exported models. Google services and apps are fully supported on Mi Notes sold outside of China, as is Google Play. That’s critical for a device maker that wants to be relevant on the global stage. Even Amazon has trouble getting around Google Play — just look at the monumental failure of the Fire Phone. (Admittedly, the lack of Google Play support is far from the Fire Phone’s only shortcoming.)

But this isn’t a pain-jane Android phone. It’s heavily altered with something called MIUI, and it’s kind of a form-fitting analog of the hardware: it’s clean, simple, befitting a flagship device, and it borrows many elements from other devices you’re probably familiar with. It’s heavily skinned, but at least in this case, that’s not a slam. (It’s running KitKat, but Xiaomi says that Lollipop is on the way.) The solid colors and primarily two-dimensional interface elements keep pace with the mobile UI vogue, and the animations and transitions are smooth and tastefully short.

 

Mi Note

MIUI was immensely popular even before Xiaomi’s phones were, and I can see why — out of the box, it feels quite a bit simpler than stock Android, but it still offers tons of customizability. A theme store lets you skin everything from the lock screen to individual UI elements, and it seems to be populated with hundreds of choices. (Admittedly, I like the stock setup enough so that I wouldn’t change it, but choice is good.) Xiaomi has warmed over the notification curtain, typefaces, and menus as well, giving everything a softer, gentler look. Strangely, the default keyboard is Google’s, which looks weirdly out of place on a phone where virtually every other corner of the UI has been given a fresh coat of paint.

And, yes, let’s not overlook the fact that there are some very blatant homages to Apple here: the folder icon is basically identical to the one found in iOS. Numbered red badges get attached to apps with notifications. Dots at the bottom of the home screen indicate your current page number. But if the world needs “an Apple of Android” — and this phone is convincing me that maybe it does — then Xiaomi is certainly in a good place to fill the role.

I like the Mi Note; I like it a lot, actually, a lot more than I thought I would. Still, I think Xiaomi’s taking a smart, measured approach by showing it in the US without selling it here, because let’s be honest — it’d be murdered in the marketplace today. Carriers would be reticent to carry a brand that’s unknown to Americans as anything other than an also-ran, but the Mi Note isn’t priced that way: a 16GB version goes for 2,299 RMB in China, which works out to something like $367. As good as this phone is, I’d be hard pressed to recommend it over an unlocked Moto X at a similar price.

But now that we’ve seen it, we know what Xiaomi is capable of. We’ve heard of the company, we’re following its progress. That sets the stage for the future — sometime when the market is perhaps more favorable to launch an upstart smartphone that people will actually want to buy.

In the meantime, China has access to one of the most interesting tech companies on the planet right now. I’m a little jealous.

Xiaomi (China) introduces GoPro-style camera, the “Yi Action Camera”

Chinese tech company, Xiaomi, is back with another offering in its ever growing array of devices to complement your life. This time around, the company is offering a GoPro-style action camera that provides a quality alternative, and as usual, for a fraction of the price. A Hero, GoPro’s entry level camera, retails for $130 USD, whereas the Xiaomi “Yi Action Camera” retails for ¥399 CNY, approximately $64 USD.

TheXiaomi alternative trumps the GoPro Hero in more than just the pricing, recording at 1080p (60 frames per second) and boasting 16-megapixels using Sony’s acclaimed Exmor R BSI CMOS image sensor, compared to the Hero’s 1080p30 or 720p60 and five-megapixel camera. The Yi Action Camera also trumps the Hero in memory, featuring a 64 GB allocation which is twice as large, and in size, coming in at a lighter 72gcompared to 111g, all the while incorporating a slightly larger battery. Like the Hero, the Yi Action Camera can go up to 40m underwater.

Much like Xiaomi’s other offerings, the camera can be remotely controlled by its smartphone apps, but the enticing alternative comes with the standard caveat of usual Xiaomi offerings, being only available in China through the Mi.com website using the company’s flash sale model.

How Samsung won and then lost the smartphone war

samsung mobile ceo jk shin introduces galaxy s5

Samsung Mobile CEO JK Shin

 

Business Insider:

In November 2011, Samsung released the first of a series of ads that would define the company for the next three years.

It started with a bunch of hipster-looking people waiting outside a mock Apple Store for the next iPhone. As the hipsters tick down the hours until they have the right to get Apple’s new iThing, they spot others on the street using something better.

The phone, Samsung’s former flagship Galaxy S II, had a big screen and a 4G wireless connection, two major features that were missing from Apple’s new iPhone 4S. And unlike the iPhone, you didn’t have to wait around to buy a Galaxy S II. You could get it now. But you didn’t see anyone lining up to buy a Samsung, or anything other than an iPhone, in those days.

Things started to change with the first “Next Big Thing” spot. Just like Apple poked fun at Microsoft with its “I’m a Mac” campaign in the 2000s, Samsung’s goal was to tap into the same strategy — a little guy taking swings at the dominant player in the industry — and for a while it worked.

By the end of 2012, Samsung’s profits were up a whopping 76%, fueled by the growth of the mobile division, which suddenly became the most profitable part of Samsung. Samsung was the only company other than Apple making a profit in mobile, and it seemed to be closing in on Apple’s dominance, prompting The Wall Street Journal to publish its famous “Has Apple Lost Its Cool To Samsung?” headline in January 2013.

samsung galaxy s ii commercial

Samsung’s Galaxy S II commercial made fun of Apple fans waiting for the new iPhone

By the time the Galaxy S4 launched in March 2013, the anticipation surrounding Samsung’s products could only be rivaled by Apple. It was officially a two-horse race.

But it only took another year for things to come crashing down. Profits tumbled in 2014, even during the normally lucrative holiday season. Throughout the year, Samsung blamed increased competition in mobile for the downturn.

Now, Samsung is gearing up for its most important smartphone launch ever on March 1. The question is whether or not the Galaxy S6 will be enough to help Samsung recover from its slump, or if it will share the same fate as former kings of mobile like Nokia, BlackBerry, and Motorola.

How did Samsung get so big so fast and how did it all go so wrong?

Competition from new players like Xiaomi and a renewed Apple were central to the decline, but corporate turmoil at Samsung, including a rift between the company’s South Korean headquarters and its suddenly successful US group, also played a major role.

Samsung Galaxy S5 iPhone 5S Fingerprint Side by side

The Samsung Galaxy S5 and the iPhone 5S

The birth of “Galaxy”

As the post-iPhone smartphone era began in 2008 and 2009, Samsung, along with many others, was hopelessly behind the curve. It relied mostly on carriers to sell its smartphones, but even then, there wasn’t any distinct branding to separate Samsung’s devices from the slew of other generic phones on the shelf. Depending on their carrier, consumers chose between iPhone, BlackBerry, or whatever their carrier threw in for free with a two-year contract.

By about 2009, Samsung decided it needed to come up with a new brand for its upcoming line of flagship phones designed to run Android, according to sources familiar with Samsung’s plans at the time. Samsung had a revolutionary new screen technology called Super AMOLED that it at first wanted to put in someone else’s device, perhaps a phone built by a major wireless carrier like Verizon. Samsung has always provided chips and displays for other manufacturers, and it wanted to license its Super AMOLED tech the same way.

Eventually, Samsung decided to make its own high-end smartphone to compete with the iPhone, but it had no way to market it. The “Samsung” name was synonymous with cheap flip phones and nice TVs. It was never mentioned in the same breath as Apple, BlackBerry, or Nokia. That could’ve set up the new device for failure before it even launched. Plus, Samsung tested its brand against Apple with consumers and learned it was barely recognizable as far as smartphones go. It needed a change.

So Samsung created a luxury sub-brand for its Android phones moving forward, the Lexus to its Toyota.

It chose Galaxy.

In March 2010, Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S, the first in what would become its successful line of Android phones and tablets. The Galaxy S had hardware specs that rivaled the iPhone but was also heavily criticized for copying the iPhone’s software and physical appearance. That didn’t seem to matter. There were hundreds of carriers in the world that still didn’t offer the iPhone, and AT&T still had an exclusive on the device in the US.

Samsung made deals with wireless carriers to promote the Galaxy S in stores when it launched that June. Even better, Samsung got AT&T to agree to sell the Galaxy S, even though it was sure to be a strong rival for the iPhone.

htc president jason mackenzie with htc ceo peter chou htc one launch event

It wasn’t that long ago HTC was king of Android

Two-horse race

Even with the successful launch of the Galaxy S, Samsung was still behind Android rivals like HTC. Both companies were making decent phones, but neither gave customers a good reason to choose one over the other. As Samsung prepared to launch its successor to the Galaxy S, the Galaxy S II, in the spring of 2011, it also formulated a new strategy to market the device, at least in the US.

According to sources familiar with the company’s thinking at the time, Samsung’s Korean executives wanted Galaxy to be the number-one smartphone brand within five years. (It ranked fifth in consumer surveys at the time.)

Under the US head of marketing Todd Pendleton and his team, Samsung was able to do it in 18 months.

At first, the Korean leadership at Samsung wanted to pick off the competition one at a time, starting with HTC, then Motorola, then BlackBerry, and finally, Apple. But the US team decided on a different approach. It was going to start a war with Apple, kicking off the smartphone world’s equivalent of Coke versus Pepsi.

It was a gamble. By attacking Apple directly, Samsung risked looking petty and desperate.

But “The Next Big Thing” campaign, developed by the ad agency 72 And Sunny, was a massive hit. For the first time since the launch of the iPhone, someone had created the believable perception that there was something better out there.

Tim CookApple CEO Tim Cook

Out-innovating Apple

With the launch of “The Next Big Thing” campaign came a lot of glowing press coverage for Samsung. There was a company out there willing to take swipes at the king of smartphones, and consumers were responding.

And for all the criticism Samsung got along the way for copying Apple, it did prove that the world was hungry for something the iPhone didn’t have yet — smartphones with giant screens.

In the fall of 2011, Samsung announced the Galaxy Note, the first so-called phablet with a 5.3-inch display. (The iPhone 4S only had a 3.5-inch screen.) Compared to most phones at the time, the Galaxy Note appeared absolutely massive. When it launched in February 2013, critics blasted the Note for being too large. The Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg, one of the most famous tech reviewers in the world, compared using the Note to holding a piece of toast against your ear.

 

samsung galaxy note 3Samsung’s Galaxy Note created the phablet market

The initial reception was so bad at first, sources say some US carriers almost didn’t want to sell the Galaxy Note II the following year.

But the phone sold well outside the US, especially in Asia, and eventually Samsung was able to prove there was a market for phablets. Samsung’s phones kept getting bigger and better screens, while iPhone users were stuck with tiny devices.

A powerful narrative began to emerge in the press: Apple was in trouble if it didn’t catch up with Samsung and start offering phones with bigger screens. Many asked if Apple had lost its knack for innovation following the death of Steve Jobs, and Samsung was doing a good job at making that theory seem plausible. Apple’s stock dropped as low as about $380 from its all-time high of about $705, largely on fears that Apple didn’t have a revolutionary new product up its sleeves.

Meanwhile, Samsung continued to climb. Sources familiar with Samsung’s sales at the time said its marketing of the Galaxy S line of phones had residual effects and boosted sales of Samsung’s other products like washing machines and refrigerators. In fact, the US team was outperforming Samsung’s headquarters in South Korea, and other international offices were itching to adopt “The Next Big Thing” in their respective countries.

The campaign was clearly a success. Unfortunately, not everyone at Samsung saw it that way.

Missed opportunity

The success of Samsung’s Mobile in the US began a rift with the Korean headquarters. Sources say the more successful Samsung was in the US, the more complicated the relationship with headquarters got. Instead of getting credit, the US team felt they were being chastised for doing their jobs well. (Samsung declined to comment on this story.)

It got so bad, a source told us, that Samsung flew a plane full of executives to the mobile division’s office in Dallas for an unannounced audit that lasted three weeks in 2012. The Dallas-based employees had to go through all materials they used to sell and market Samsung’s mobile products. They were accused of falsifying sales, bribing the media, and a bunch of other damaging actions that hurt morale in the office. The same US-based office that helped turn Samsung into a brand as recognizable as Apple was suddenly being punished for its work.

After three weeks, the Korean auditors found nothing wrong with the way the US office had been operating and went home. But the damage had been done, and the perception remained at the Korean headquarters that despite its success, the US team was up to no good.

In fact, during one meeting with the global teams at Samsung’s headquarters in Korea, executives made the US team stand up in front of several hundred of their peers in an auditorium. The executives told the employees to clap for the US team as encouragement since they were the only group failing the company, even though it was clear to everyone the opposite was true.

That all but killed any hope of translating what the US team pulled off to other regions. They were able to continue in North America, but Samsung’s global messaging remained disjointed.

Amid these tensions, Samsung introduced the Galaxy S4 in 2013 at an over-the-top event at Radio City Music Hall in New York. Instead of the traditional product announcement, Samsung put on a Broadway-style musical that incorporated features of the new phone.

It was weird, one of those things you had to see to believe. And a lot of people criticized Samsung for putting on a show that seemed to objectify women. CNET’s Molly Wood called the event “tone-deaf and shockingly sexist.”

Samsung Unpacked Event 92Samsung’s Galaxy S4 event was criticized for objectifying women

Aside from the awkward unveiling, the Galaxy S4 also launched to mostly negative reviews. Samsung packed a ton of features into the phone like touch-free controls, eye tracking, and a whole suite of camera modes that were either unnecessary or didn’t work as advertised. Still, the phone was Samsung’s most successful ever, and 2013 was another very good year for the company.

But 2014 was going to be a wakeup call.

The rough year

At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last year, Samsung boasted it had sold more than 100 million units from its Galaxy S line over the last four years, a sales figure for a flagship series that only Apple could beat.

Then it unveiled the Galaxy S5, a phone that toned down a lot of the superfluous features of the Galaxy S4 while including some useful new stuff like an improved camera and water-resistant body. Like previous Galaxy S phones, the S5 had a plastic body and sold for about $650 unlocked. Based on the success of the Galaxy S4, the company had no reason to believe it had a dud on its hands.

It was wrong.

There were a lot of factors for Samsung’s major slip in 2014, but the biggest culprit appears to be Chinese smartphone manufacturers. Chinese companies like the startups OnePlus and Xiaomi appeared to have perfected the magic formula for making beautiful, high-quality smartphones that cost at least half as much as the iPhone or Samsung’s Galaxy S series.

Xiaomi was the biggest success story of the year. By some estimates, it was the top smartphone vendor in China, the next big market where millions of people are making the transition to smartphones. Xiaomi’s phones are made out of premium materials like metal, so they look better than Samsung’s phones. They also have similar specs like fast processors, sharp screens, and high-quality cameras.

xiaomi ceo lei junXiaomi CEO Lei Jun. Xiaomi was the top smartphone vendor in China in 2014

Xiaomi’s rise meant Samsung’s decline in China. Since Xiaomi phones are also Android phones, there was very little Samsung’s pricier models could do that Xiaomi’s phones couldn’t do. Plus, Xiaomi is a marketing success story. Fans snap up the devices with the same fervor Apple fans buy new iPhone models in Western countries. And most of Xiaomi’s marketing is done through social media or word of mouth, so it doesn’t have to rely on the multimillion dollar ad campaigns Samsung uses.

But Xiaomi is just one factor. A lot of Samsung’s success came because it was able to get a head start and distribute its phones on a broader scale before the rest of the non-iPhone competition could, according to tech analyst Ben Thompson, the author of the Stratechery blog.

For example, the iPhone was only available on about a third as many carriers as Samsung phones were. In the US, Samsung phones were one of your best options unless you were an AT&T customer and had access to the iPhone.

It was the same story on China Mobile, the largest wireless carrier in the world with over 700 million subscribers. Apple finally brought the iPhone to China Mobile early last year. Ever since, China has been one of Apple’s biggest growth areas for the iPhone business. Everyone else seemed to be choosing Xiaomi, Lenovo, or another cheaper rival to Samsung.

I think it’s always dangerous when you don’t know why you’ve won,” Thompson said in an interview. “One of the reasons Samsung succeeded is they pivoted in ways Nokia and others didn’t. They were able to leverage everything they already had, but weren’t able to sustain it because there wasn’t anything special about their phones. Samsung got crushed on the high end by Apple and the low end by Xiaomi in China.”

Thompson continued, “At the end of the day, there’s nothing to differentiate a Samsung phone, so they’ll have to compete on price.”

However, that doesn’t seem to be Samsung’s plan.

The new strategy

On March 1, Samsung will unveil two new versions of its next flagship phone, the Galaxy S6. According to sources familiar with Samsung’s plans, one version will have a metal body, a departure from the plasticky phones the company has made in the past. The second version will have a curved screen, similar to the Galaxy Note Edge that launched last fall.

But both models are still going to priced as premium products. According to one leak, the “Edge” version of the Galaxy S6 could cost over $1,000 without a contract, at least three times the cost of a Xiaomi phone.

Unless Samsung has a special trick up its sleeve on the software side, it’s unlikely that its new phones will be enough to justify the extra cost over similar Android devices. And if that happens, Samsung is almost certainly up for another messy year. The glow surrounding Samsung’s smartphone business has almost certainly faded for good. Time to find something new.

Samsung CEO BK Yoon

Samsung CEO BK Yoon at the opening CES keynote

That doesn’t mean the company is hosed. Samsung is a massive organization that makes everything from dishwashers to air purifiers. It has the scale and manufacturing power to harness the next big thing after smartphones, even if that next big thing doesn’t come from it’s own R&D labs.

Plus, its chip business is already very profitable, and is due to get a nice boost thanks to a reported agreement with Apple to make processors for the next iPhone due to launch later this year.

One key area Samsung is focusing on in the near term is the “internet of things” (IoT) trend, which means connecting everyday objects like light switches and toasters to the internet for a deeper level of control. At the Consumer Electronics Show in January of this year, Samsung announced that every product it makes will connect to the internet within a few years. In theory, this will build a valuable ecosystem connecting everything in your home and create a whole new category of Samsung customers.

Still, the company may always look back longingly on those brief years when it went head-to-head with Apple.

Xiaomi goes after iPhone 6 Plus with Mi Note Phablet

Beijing-based tech upstart Xiaomi has made quite an impression over the past few years, but its most recent move might also be its cheekiest. The “world’s most valuable startup” has recently unveiled its Mi Note which, sized at 5.7 inches and sporting a 13 megapixel camera at the back, boldly addresses the dominance of large-scale phones from a certain Cupertino-based American counterpart. If the size is a bit daunting, consider that the Mi Note comes encased in wear-proof Gorilla Glass, the parts of which are bound by aluminum trim at the sides – thus reducing the need for an additional case.

Other details under the hood include a zippy 2.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon chip, internal storage options of either 16GB or 64GB, and a crisp Sabre ES9018K2M digital-to-analog converter that makes all FLAC, WAV, and MP3′s sound perfect. Look for this release to launch in the coming weeks, while an upgraded Mi Note Plus is slated for the end of March.

A Chinese company just became the most valuable startup in the world

xiaomi lei jun

Xiaomi Founder Lei Jun

Next Shark:

Smartphone startup Xiaomi has taken the crown as the most valuable startup in the world after raising $1.1 billion with a pre-money valuation of $45 billion. Uber, whose ride-sharing service may or may not surprise you with a creepy driver who is either insane or a sex offender, previously held the title with a $41 billion valuation.

The news came when Xiaomi co-founder and president Bin Lin formally announced the funding and valuation in a Facebook post on Monday.

Screen Shot 2015-01-01 at 4.14.44 PM

Xiaomi Inc. was founded in 2010 in Beijing by entrepreneurs Bin Lin and Lei Jun, who is regarded as the “Steve Jobs” of China for founding revolutionary companies that include Amazon China, software company Kingsoft, internet company UCWeb and the video-based social network YY. According to Forbes, the 45-year-old Jun is one of China’s richest men with a $9.1 billion net worth.

xiaomi phone 2s

The company, which is hardly a startup anymore, now has over 3,000 employees throughout China, Malaysia and Singapore, with more soon in India and Indonesia. Xiaomi released their first smartphone in 2011 and is famous for producing phones sold for prices close to actual production costs exclusively online — the company profits by also producing phone accessories, other consumer electronics and software. Xiaomi is now the third largest smartphone maker in the world behind Samsung and Apple, respectively, and is also the dominant smartphone maker in China.

Xiaomi has stayed relatively unknown in the United States until now, although the company has garnered press in the past for allegedly copying Apple’s designs. Could Xiaomi eventually come to dominate the U.S. market with their inexpensive smartphone strategy?

 

The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are cutting Into Samsung’s profits

Image of The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are Cutting Into Samsung's Profits

Tech giant Samsung announces that it expects to receive weaker than projected profit margins for the third quarter. Reporting an operating profit of just under $4 billion USD for the current quarter, which is a significant drop off from the $7 billion USD earned last quarter, Samsung blames a decline in average selling price of its mobile phones as a key reason to the drop in earnings.

This speculation comes at a time when the company faces stiff competition from other tech firms — such as Chinese startup Xiaomi — that offer Android capabilities through much cheaper alternative mobile devices. Key competitor Apple has also just released the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, contributing to increased competition amongst Samsung’s larger-screened high-end phones.

Luckily for Samsung, its lead in memory chips is expected to aid the blow from poor mobile phone sales. With Christmas and the gifting season fast approaching, stay tuned to see if profits fickle as the year comes to an end.

 

Link

Ex-Android VP brings Chinese Xiaomi brand ahead of Samsung smartphones and Apple App Store and Google Play

 

Xiaomi, the break-out smartphone star of the Greater China market, is receiving lots of attention thanks to the somewhat salacious tale of ex-Android VP Hugo Barra and his recent move to the Chinese company. Xiaomi is looking to sell around 20 million smartphones by the end of 2013, and is doing so well that it’s challenging Samsung, a formerly dominant force, at home in China. The company sees tight margins on hardware – intentionally – but it might have another ace up its sleeve in terms of appealing to potential international carrier partners.

Xiaomi users are installing new applications on their devices at a rate of nearly twice that of their competitors using either the App Store or Google Play. Xiaomi phone owners average around 26.5 million apps downloaded per quarter per device, while those in Apple and Google’s mobile software ecosystem average around 13 to 15 million titles downloaded in the same span per gadget.

Check out this link:

Xiaomi ahead of Samsung smartphones, Apple App Store, and Google Play

Xiaomi