Chinese Android Phone Maker Xiaomi Preps Big Global Push For This Year

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Chinese Android device startup Xiaomi is stepping up its international expansion plans — with founder Lei Jun, speaking at a Beijing press event, today naming 10 markets it plans to enter this year (via TechInAsia).

Xiaomi has previously cited some of the countries on the list as being on its future international expansion roadmap. But it’s now making the scope and pace of its global ambitions plainer — listing the following 10 countries where it will launch products in 2014: Malaysia, Indonesia, India, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Russia, Turkey, Brazil, and Mexico.

Xiaomi’s devices are currently available in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore.

Earlier this year a source told TechCrunch that any Xiaomi launches in European markets such as Russia would not happen for around two years — suggesting the company has decided to push down harder on the expansion throttle than it originally intended.

Indeed, a report in TechNode on today’s Xiaomi press conference notes Lei as saying its initial expansion efforts — to Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore — had “performed “way better than expected”. Hence, presumably, the accelerated expansion plans.

Yesterday the company unveiled a shorter, snappier, more internationally minded URL — Mi.com — intended to be better suited for a non-Chinese audience, as it prepares to accelerate its global push.

Xiaomi has also recently said it has a target of selling 60 million smartphones this year (it sold 18.7 million last year). The 60 million figure may well be easier to achieve if it chalks up more market launches — boiling down to a few million sales required per country with another 10 being added this year (bear in mind Xiaomi shipped 11 million smartphones in the first quarter of this year to its existing market footprint).

The phone maker’s current flagship handset is the Mi 3 (pictured below), which has a quad-core 2.3GHz processor and a full HD display — and costs circa $330 unlocked. It also sells a lower cost device targeting the mid-range, called the Redmi, which costs circa $130 — yet still gets you a 1.5GHz quad-core chip and 720p HD display. Xiaomi’s devices run its own Android firmware, called MIUI.

Xiaomi Mi 3

It doesn’t just make phones either. Xiaomi also has routers, smart TVs and set-top boxes in its hardware range, along with a cloud storage service and a messaging app. Today it unveiled a new colourful line of mini routers — costing circa $20 — as another hardware addition, and also the full launch of its Mi Router (which was previously not widely available). It also refreshed its Xiaomi Box set-top box, with better performance and support for 4K Ultra HD content.

Mini routers and other hardware are just the garnish for a startup business that’s powered by shipping lots of smartphones by packing in impressive specs for the money the consumer is shelling out — helping it build hype for its devices on social media (where it often funnels sales). Xiaomi is pegging its future monetization on building services revenue off of a swelling hardware fan-base. So selling lots of phones to scale up that user-base is crucial.