Xiaomi bets on ex-Googler, MIUI for global expansion

Chinese smartphone maker is counting on its Android-based operating system as well as new global vice president and former Google employee, Hugo Barra, to help put the company on the global map.
Written by Eileen Yu, Senior Contributing Editor

Xiaomi is counting on its Google hire and Android-based firmware to help put the Chinese smartphone maker on the global map, just three years after its debut.

Lin Bin, Xiaomi
Xiaomi co-founder & president, Lin Bin

Currently valued at US$10 billion, the company has been growing its market share since it was set up in April 2010, selling 7.19 million handsets last year and is expecting to move 15 million units this year. It currently claims a 2.5 percent share of the Chinese smartphone market. Its latest MiPhone 3 device was launched last week, touting better specs than Samsung's Note III, and it also unveiled a new 47-inch smart TV which runs on its Android-based MIUI operating system

The MiPhone maker is now looking to make its mark on the global stage through its new hire, Hugo Barra, who was Google's vice president of Android product management, Xiaomi's Beijing-based co-founder and president Lin Bin, said in an interview with tech news site TNW.

Barra, who will officially start his new role as Xiaomi's global vice president in October, has been tasked to "figure out which region we should enter next, and how", Lin said. He added that the ex-Googler will also play a key role in helping the Chinese company understand the different consumer needs in different regions with regard to software and hardware design.  

Lin credited the company's success thus far to its focus on three key areas--hardware, software, and Internet services--noting that it is services that will eventually bring in the revenue. Xiaomi also builds its own firmware, MIUI, which the co-founder said will remain fully compatible with and firmly entrenched in the Android ecosystem. 

He told TNW: "The biggest worry for Android is the fragmentation... [that] it becomes so distinctly different that apps built for this Android doesn't work on other versions of Android. Since day one, we've never done that [with MIUI phones].

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