LEI JUN, THE founder and boss of Xiaomi, a Chinese smartphone-maker, has long had something of an inferiority complex. For a decade Xiaomi has played second fiddle to Huawei, a rival Chinese producer of handsets. In a recent live-streamed address watched more than 30m times, Mr Lei admitted that his firm is not yet “in the same league” as Huawei. The audience, comprising mainly “Mi fans” (as devotees of Xiaomi products are known), booed the dispiriting assessment. That prompted Mr Lei to change tack, quickly adding that “you will find lots of things we do well”.
Investors are not complaining. Xiaomi’s share price has doubled since June. Its value surged to $80bn on November 5th. The main explanation is the flagging performance of none other than Huawei, which has been cut off from a critical resource—mobile chips—after export restrictions imposed by America came into effect on September 15th. The regulations prohibit chip manufacturers whose products contain American technology, including suppliers outside America, from selling to Huawei. The chokehold is likely to depress Huawei’s sales for the foreseeable future.
Xiaomi is better insulated from the geopolitical storm. Unlike Huawei, which sells telecoms gear to foreign network operators, Xiaomi runs only a consumer operation. It is thus less likely to stoke foreign ire. Big chipmakers like Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, for instance, continue to supply Xiaomi even as they are forced to cut ties with Huawei.
New data from Canalys, a research firm, suggest that Xiaomi is cashing in on Huawei’s troubles. In the third quarter Xiaomi shipped 47m smartphones worldwide, up by 45% year on year. Huawei hawked more handsets, 52m units, but that is down by 23% from a year ago and the next quarter will almost certainly be even weaker. Xiaomi could soon overtake Huawei to become the world’s second-biggest smartphone vendor—behind only Samsung, which shifted 80m units in the quarter. Xiaomi is the undisputed winner from Huawei’s woes. Compared with the same period last year, third-quarter shipments from Samsung and Apple, which dispatched 43m handsets, barely budged. This suggests that consumers regard Xiaomi smartphones as a suitable substitute for Huawei’s products.
根据分析公司 Canalys 的最新数据，小米正从华为的困境中获利。第三季度，小米智能手机在全球的出货量为 4700万部，同比增长了45%。华为卖的更多，由5300万部，但与去年相比下降了23% ，并且几乎可以确定的是在下一季度将会表现更差。小米可能会很快超越华为，成为仅次于三星的世界第二大智能手机制造商，三星在本季度的出货量为8000万部。小米无疑是华为困境中的赢家。与去年同期相比，三星和苹果第三季度的出货量几乎没有变化，共发货4300万部手机。这表明，消费者将小米视为华为手机的合适替代品。
Like its Chinese rival, Xiaomi tries to cater to every customer. Wealthier folk favour the flagship “Mi” phones. “Redmi” phones are aimed at the mass market (similar to Huawei’s “Honor” series). This explains Xiaomi’s popularity in both developed and developing countries. It is the leading smartphone supplier in markets as diverse as India and Spain. Apple’s pricey products have less appeal in poorer countries.
The question is how long Xiaomi can sustain its fortuitous ascent. A new administration in America may lift restrictions against Huawei, enabling it to buy chips from global suppliers once again. If that happens, Xiaomi could be squeezed. To avoid this fate it talks of building on an “ecosystem” designed to keep customers interested. In addition to smartphones, which account for three-fifths of revenues, the company sells a range of smart devices, from light bulbs to electric scooters. It also offers fintech services like micro-lending. Xiaomi’s sense of inferiority could be a thing of the past.
A: So Cody , how do you think we can help this company grow ?
B: Personally, I think we should develop a new product .
A: Hmm , I have to say I disagree . I think we should stick to what we know .
B: I see your point , but I think customers will eventually want something new and exciting .
A: Perhaps . A new product will also be expensive though .
B: I agree . However , it also could bring us more money .
A: Alright . Then what would you suggest ?
B: I’d suggest creating a product for younger customers.
A: Well , that could be useful . Ok , why don’t you do some more research and let me know ?
嗯，那应该挺有用的。 行， 你多做些调查，然行再告诉我吧。
B: Ok, sounds good .