No more cheap copycats: Xiaomi targets Apple in high-end battle of "life and death"
Lei Jun has started the Chinese Year of the Tiger with a call to battle for Xiaomi’s employees. It appears the main goal for the OEM is to become the world’s largest company in terms of smartphone sales within three years. To do this, the chief executive reckons Xiaomi has to take on Apple and its iPhone brand toe-to-toe, which means further infiltration of the high-end smartphone market.
Xiaomi built its well-regarded reputation by selling affordable Android smartphones under its Mi, Redmi, and POCO brands, which consisted of devices that frequently “borrowed” popular features and design language from other tech products, with Apple typically being a target for “inspiration”. The plan has come to fruition in a big way, with Xiaomi scoring second place (17% share) in the list of worldwide smartphone shipments in Q2 2021, just behind Samsung (19%) and ahead of Apple (14%).
However, the release of the iPhone 13 series allowed Apple to roar ahead again, and by Q4 2021 the fruit company had soared to 22% of worldwide smartphone shipments while Samsung lost a bit of ground on 17% and Xiaomi dipped drastically to 12%. Obviously, selling cheap and affordable smartphones has been good business for Xiaomi, but with ambitions to become the number one smartphone company in the world, it’s clear to see why the Chinese OEM would target the high-end sector.
Groundwork for this move has been hinted at before, specifically with the release of the Mi 10 series. Xiaomi has created a high-end strategy workgroup to tackle the issue and is investing 100 billion yuan (US$15.7 billion) in its research and development plan over the next five years. Lei Jun called the plan a “life-and-death battle for Xiaomi’s development”, with Apple and the iPhone being the “benchmark” to aim for and then surpass.