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Xiaomi Is An Original And Not A Copy Of iPhone : Forbes

If Chinese smart phone maker Xiaomi succeeds in its mission, it may become known as the company that dispelled notions that China technology is a copy of western knowhow.

But there is still a hurdle to jump. Say Xiaomi, and most people think copy, not original. But as Xiaomi becomes better known in the West, that impression could change.

Or at least that’s according to early Xiaomi investorHans Tung of GGV Capital. He sat down with me recently for an interview on Silicon Dragon Talk and shared his perspective on what makes Xiaomi an original.
He pointed to three key differentiators for Xiaomi:
Customized features on the phones — users can change the color, language, layout, and app presentation
Social media feedback — fans and core users can contribute to the phone and change it on a daily basis

Direct sales — Xiaomi is only sold online, eliminating the middleman, and thus helping to keep the cost low (about $300 for a smartphone). Marketing was nearly all word of mouth.

What also separates Xiaomi apart from others is the drive of founder Lei Jun. He’s on a mission to make a big impact in the world by helping to spread the use of affordable smart phones throughout the developing world.

Having largely missed the Internet wave at his previous company Kingsoft while Baidu , Alibaba and Tencent have been cresting, Lei Jun is determined to catch the mobile Internet wave while the timing is good. See Forbes Asia article on Lei Jun named Businessman of the Year.

Certainly, the use of MI branding (sound familiar to the I in iPhone?) in its products will help carry the company’s hardware products — smartphone, smart TV and routers — into more markets outside China. Look for more developments from Xiaomi as it raises more capital to expand its ecosystem into wearables, headphones and battery packs.

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