When Lei Jun, founder and CEO of China’s mobile company Xiaomi Technology, took the stage in Beijing yesterday to announce the Xiaomi Phone 2, his company’s successor to the MiOne phone, it was a familiar sight to anyone who has ever watched one of Apple’s famous theatrical product unveilings.
Clad in a black turtleneck, blue jeans and runners and standing in front of a giant screen as the audience of more than a thousand devotees cheered and clapped, the unveiling bore more than a passing resemblance to an Apple event starring Steve Jobs.
But that’s beyond the point. What matters is that Xiaomi Technology. Ever heard of the company? Founded only two years ago, it’s already worth more than BlackBerry maker Research In Motion. Its latest smartphone has better hardware than the iPhone 4S, yet sells for less than half the price.
Xiaomi’s Q1 2012 revenue was nearly $1 billion on sales on three million phones. Not bad for a two-year old handset maker doing business in the 1.33 billion people market, which recently overtook the United States in terms of iOS and Android activations. Xiaomi is one of many iPhone contenders in China whose names you’ve never heard before.