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Xiaomi: Hidden Android dragon is growing fast, despite being unknown in the West

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Xiaomi - the fastest growing mobile phone manufacturer - is now Number Three in China and setting its sights on the top spot.

The company has said through its blog that it sold 26.11 million phones in the first six months of the year and has set a target of 60m phones for the full year.

The figure shows extraordinary growth of 271% year on year, and that translates to 33bn Yuan, or $5.3bn (£3.1bn). Given the acceleration in growth the 60m target should easily be reached. Xiaomi is the largest privately owned mobile phone company in the world and belongs to Lei Jun - the entrepreneur behind other major Chinese tech businesses such as Joyo.cn and YY, who styles himself as the Chinese Steve Jobs. Xiaomi already outsells Apple in China, with only Lenovo and Samsung ahead of it.

The incredibly rapid growth of the Chinese handset manufacturers is a major disruptive trend for the mobile phone industry. The Yulong Coolpad is starting to make inroads into Western markets, Huawei has a stated intention to be the world’s number 3 and Lenovo has bought Motorola. TCL sells in Europe under the Alcatel brand, and ZTE is starting to become more mainstream. In addition to this there are hundreds of small manufacturers. All of this is a threat to Apple and particularly Samsung which has seen its market share in China gobbled by the native manufacturers in general - and Xiaomi in particular.

ARM sees the plethora of small Chinese manufacturers as the key to opening up the market for processors and modems beyond the current usual suspects of MediaTek, Qualcomm and NVidia.

All that said, we have yet to see anything particularly innovative from Xiaomi, and products such as the Mi Pad have been accused of being derivative but the value for money proposition from Xiaomi ties in well with the growth of the middle class in the emerging world. Xiaomi is concentrating on China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, India, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Russia, Turkey, Brazil and Mexico, with a particular interest in India.

Xiaomi devices run Android with the MIUI and much of the web support is targeted at the countries where Xiaomi is very active. Even so, today's low key presence in the West could well be deceptive as Xiaomi becomes a significant world player by growing first in its home territories. ®

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