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China’s Xiaomi to enter 10 more countries

BEIJING — Xiaomi, the four-year-old smartphone maker that outsells Apple in China, plans to enter 10 more countries this year as it accelerates international expansion.

The Xiaomi Redmi. Photo: Xiaomi

The Xiaomi Redmi. Photo: Xiaomi

BEIJING — Xiaomi, the four-year-old smartphone maker that outsells Apple in China, plans to enter 10 more countries this year as it accelerates international expansion.

Sales will start in nations including India, Brazil and Russia, Mr Lei Jun, Xiaomi’s founder and chief executive officer, said at a press conference in Beijing yesterday.

The maker of smartphones, televisions and routers is broadening its range of consumer electronics and expanding overseas to build on existing sales in its home market of China as well as that of Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore. Xiaomi keeps costs down by selling directly to consumers online and Mr Lei has set a goal of boosting sales five-fold to 100 million phones next year.

“You can certainly call this an acceleration,” said president and co-founder Bin Lin in an interview after the event. “It’s our mission and our belief that this model should be able to achieve some level of success outside of China.”

Xiaomi recorded 1.5 billion yuan (S$302 million) in orders during a one-day Web sale in China on April 8 and is now the nation’s third-largest e-commerce site, the company said.

Its Mi3 smartphone sells in China for 1,999 yuan, or less than half the 4,488 yuan price of Apple’s iPhone 5c. And buyers are potentially getting a better-equipped phone for their money: Compared with the 5c, the Mi3 has a larger, sharper screen, a camera with higher-density pixels and a speedy quad-core processor from Nvidia or Qualcomm.

Xiaomi captured 7 per cent of China’s smartphone market in the fourth quarter, ranking just ahead of Apple, data from research firm Canalys showed.

At the conference, Mr Lei unveiled two new router products, one that sells for 699 yuan and can control household appliances, as well as a stripped-down version for 129 yuan. Xiaomi also announced an update to its set-top TV Box.

Founded in 2010 as a company to make software for mobile devices running Google’s Android system, Xiaomi introduced its first smartphone in 2011. It subsequently added the MiBox, a television set-top box, and then last September announced a 47-inch TV that connects to the Web and runs the Android operating system.

Xiaomi’s valuation hit US$10 billion (S$12.6 billion) with a fundraising round in August, the same month it hired Mr Hugo Barra from Google to lead international sales.

The other markets announced today were Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Turkey, Mexico and the Philippines. BLOOMBERG

Redmi’s Successful S’pore launch

When Xiaomi launched its Redmi phones (picture) for sale in Singapore in February, each batch sold out in a few minutes, the company said. Buyers were attracted by the generally positive reviews for the quad-core, 1.5Ghz phone that runs a modified version of Android OS’ Jelly Bean. More significantly, the S$169 non-contract price tag was an offer that prospective buyers found hard to resist. The company subsequently started offering its Mi3 phone for S$419.

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