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back to article Xiaomi plans global domination with fast smartphones and software

The established smartphone vendors should prepare for challenge from China: Xiaomi, a firm started just three years ago by a Chinese serial entrepreneur and Google's ex-head of engineering, has announced plans to move out of the Middle Kingdom and onto the world stage. The first time many people in the Western world heard of …

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Ecosystem, Ecosystem, Ecosystem

It's all about Ecosystem of apps and add-ons. Microsoft and Blackberry face the same problem. Android is catching up.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Ecosystem, Ecosystem, Ecosystem

Android is no longer "catching up", this system is clearly the leader now. At least 70% of the market compared to the iOS of nearly 17% and dropping. Apple has had its day and needs to give up the

ridiculous tactics of "grasping at straws" that only emphasise its desperation.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Ecosystem, Ecosystem, Ecosystem

Many start ups release an iOS app first then Android.

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Re: Ecosystem, Ecosystem, Ecosystem

"Android is no longer "catching up", this system is clearly the leader now. At least 70% of the market compared to the iOS of nearly 17% and dropping. Apple has had its day and needs to give up the"

This is unanalysed wishfulness.

Android is the leader in Global device sales/activations and that's about the only figure it does lead with. However there is now a trend in mature markets for iOS market share growing in relation to Android (US and UK with the top 5 EU economies all on a similar trend). Developers still make considerably more money developing for iOS. Additionally, it would seem a large proportion of Android devices have been purchased by disinterested users who have gone for a cheap smartphone because it has reached price levels previously occupied by feature phones. These devices are being used less and, also, it would seem, binned earlier (or not being used for Internet). Flurry analytics reports are showing an estimated 510 million active app-using iOS devices worldwide versus 564 million active app-using Android devices (hardly reflective of the worldwide sales figures).

This will change with Xiaomi, who I have been following for some time and seem to be doing some outstanding work. They are run by a guy who is, probably for quite fair reasons, being hailed as the new Steve Job's. Their latest handsets, which are due to be lower cost than the iPhone 5c, in my opinion based on the images I've seen (always a little dangerous) have a higher quality appearance and better hardware design aesthetic. Additionally Google and Google's flavour of Android *are unlikely to be the beneficiary over the longer term.* Xiaomi, of course, are not using Google official Android, they are pushing non-Google services hardest in China such as Baidu and Sina Weibo and it is likely based on the size/strength of the Chinese market alone, they will make very different strategic partnerships that will, over time, sideline Google even in the West, because they have a very big prize indeed within reach, ownership of the globally pre-eminent hardware/software stack from top to bottom (starting from a base of ownership of the same in the Chinese market - which they are already on course to achieve).

In my opinion, and this is just opinion which I know will be contentious, Google investing the billions in Android as Open Source software could very well turn out to be one of the biggest ever strategic blunders in tech. There is the very real danger they have given China the power to overturn America's Global domination of Operating System software far earlier than it might otherwise have been achieved. You can count the number of globally pre-eminent OS's on the fingers of one Hand and they have all originated from the US. Establishing an OS is an extremely hard thing to do and the US had every opportunity to hold on to that advantage for years to come. But then Android changed all that. Android has been very aptly described as an unguided missile. It could very well, and in my opinion is highly likely to, end up striking at the heat of Silicon Valley.

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Re: Ecosystem, Ecosystem, Ecosystem

As an unrelated side point, although I am not normally an apostrophy fascist and quite happily overlook a legion of it's/its and your/you're errors, even I can't overlook putting an apostrophe in Steve Jobs.........

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Happy

Good grief!

"megapixel camera, and costs 1,999 yuan, ($327) for the 16GB version and 2,499 yuan ($408) for 32GB – about half the......."

At those prices the 32GB version would be about £300 inc VAT.

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Re: Good grief!

At those prices the 32GB version would be about £300 inc VAT.

Well, that's no surprise, given that the real manufacturing will be done by Sharp,Qualcomm, Taiwan Semicionductor, Samsung, Hynix etc. Xiaomi can specify (for example) extra thin parts, and therefore design the package, but they won't be able to buy the parts any cheaper, and in fact they'll have a lot less volume than the likes of Samsung. As Motorola are currently demonstrating, the costs of handset assembly are sinply a rounding error on the final sale price.

This is the problem facing Nokia. The value they add as a specifier and assembler is too low. Remember the PC box assemblers? Even Dell can't make a profit in end user PCs now. That's where mobile phone "manufacturers" are at the moment. As this outfit demonstrate (along with all the landfill Android) there's no barriers to entry in this market, and you either need to be behind the tech curve, low cost and disposable, or you need to have a brand behind you, and you still need some form of differentiation.

If you go by either "profitless" models like the Google Nexus 4, or take the Isuppli bill of materials and add through the other costs to retail, you find that there simply isn't a magical cheap way of making decent spec handsets, and the costs are broadly the same. At the very high end margins increase and there's room for some price competition, but the buyers at those price points generally are quite picky and brand sensitive.

Good luck to this outfit, we need some competition as other makers go down the pan or throw in the towel, but they'll need to be quite canny to outcompete Google at their own game.

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Re: Good grief!

Their stated aim has been to sell hardware at close to cost, and to sell services on top. Their custom Android ROM (available for a range of phones from different manufacturers) looks interesting, with what look to be genuinely useful improvements over stock Android:

http://en.miui.com/features.php

I hope they do well!

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@Dave 126 Thanks for posting that........

...........I'll take a look at it later today.

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They are doing TVs too

Definitely one to watch.

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Chinese Phones

Xiomi produce a good product, Chinese phones in general are getting better with Xiomi, Oppo, Zopo, JiaYu, amongst othere producing decent phones at a great price, Ones to watch are Faea whose F1 has a Qualcomm quad core CPU, a gig of RAM, OK so only 4 Gig storage, but has MicroSD slot, dual SIM, NFC and a 720p screen for around £120 delivered.

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What are they like with software upgrade?

I'm a bit cheesed off with Motorola and want to switch.

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Miui is OK....

MIUI is ok as a replacement custom build of Android. I had it on my HTC Desire 3 years ago.

However, there's an issue here. It's a rip off of iOS. Or it was when I used it. Maybe the UI has changed somewhat.

If they want to compete globally with a smartphone AND rip off Apple, they won't just be competing with the companies, they'll be competing with their fat wad of patents, which, as Sammysing found out, can be quite painful.

Also, Oppo's phones are a piece of shit. They're on display everywhere here in China and they're another terrible rip off merchant.

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THL

Their biggest problem might be another manufacturer - THL. For example their W8S model is quad core, 8MP and 13MP cameras, 32GB, user swappable batteries (it comes with 2), full HD IPS screen and costs less than £240 (inc VAT) from a UK supplier (look on ebay). With competitor prices like that, a new entrant will have difficulty making a good profit. Also the Tegra4 is rather power hungry for smartphone use.

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Can you image what the instruction booklet would read like? China has yet to find a technical translator, from all account!

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Instruction Booklet?

People don't read those, or manuals.

That's why you need to make products intuitive to use.

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Bargains?

there are some decent phones to buy from China, just make sure the frequency bands on the phone are compatible with your location, the Faea F1 should be fine on 3G in UK, it has 900/2100 for 3G, but the Faea F2 and othereds are 850/2100, so wilkl be flaky

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