Xiaomi moving international user data and cloud services out of Beijing

Xiaomi is moving its services and user data to the cloud ahead of a push into markets outside of China.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Chinese smartphone powerhouse Xiaomi has started migrating its international users' data out of China in preparation for a bigger push into international markets.

The company behind China's top-selling smartphone has started shifting some of its user data and services to Amazon's availability zones in Singapore and the US, in part to prepare services such as messaging and e-commerce for international users, but also to comply with data protection regulations in non-Chinese markets.

Xiaomi kicked off its expansion beyond Greater China in February, starting with Singapore followed by India where it's quickly gained traction with consumers with its $300 Mi 3 and the Redmi 1S, which retails in India for $100 — the target price for Google's latest Android One initiative in India. 

Xiaomi is now the fifth largest smartphone maker in the world and next year plans to expand into Brazil but so far hasn't committed to launching in the US or Europe.

Amid its global expansion though, Xiaomi has hit a few privacy snags that struck a nerve with buyers outside of mainland China, in particular Hong Kong and Taiwan.

In August it was called out by security firm F-Secure over a setting in MIUI, its custom Android ROM, that by default sent users' device identifiers, contact details and received SMS to a server in Beijing, where it's headquartered. Responding to the claims, Xiaomi VP Hugo Barra explained in August that explained it away as a necessary component of its MIUI's cloud messaging service, akin to Apple's iMessage. Nonetheless, Xiaomi issued an update that made the service opt-in. 

Despite the update, in September it caught the attention of regulators in Taiwan and Hong Kong over similar claims. Xiaomi's announcement follows recent accusations that the Chinese government had attempted to capture credentials of Chinese iCloud users.

According to Barra though, the primary motivation for its current server and data migration was to cut down latency and failure rates. To this end, it's also signed up with content distribution network provider, Akamai.

“This migration process will be completed by the end of October and will benefit users in all of our international markets — Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Taiwan. Users are already experiencing website speed boosts of at least 30% in markets such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and as much as 200% in India," said Barra.

It's also moving its key services and corresponding data from Mi Account, Cloud Messaging and Mi Cloud services from Beijing to AWS’ Oregon and Singapore zones.

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