Xiaomi, the Chinese smartphone manufacturer, is competing with Apple on yet another front, by creating its first laptop. According to the Taipei Times, hardware firm Inventec will be making the device, which is set to ship within the first six months of 2016. The news confirms a Bloomberg report from earlier this month, which said Xiaomi was “considering the introduction of its first laptop.”
“I am upbeat about the business outlook for Xiaomi’s notebook computers, as the firm has more than 200 million registered smartphone users,” Inventec chairman Richard Lee told reporters in New Taipei City this week. “I am not sure if the smartphone approach will be applicable to notebooks, but I expect Xiaomi’s entry into the notebook industry to bring something new to the market.” While Xiaomi’s laptop could still make a dent in China, it’s unlikely it would meet with much success in the U.S., where Apple already monopolizes the market.
Apple has long fought to win the Chinese smartphone market, but has been continuously sidelined by Xiaomi, whose Android smartphones are far more affordable than iPhones. Xiaomi’s brand appeal is also stronger in China, where it is native; it garners the same ardor from fans in China as Apple does from its user base in the U.S. This year, however, for the first time, Apple has sold more smartphones in China than Xiaomi, over two consecutive quarters–a potential red flag for Xiaomi, which has yet to make significant inroads outside of China.
One of Fast Company‘s most innovative companies last year, Xiaomi is worth $46 billion and is one of the most valuable startups in the world, second only to Uber. Fast Company‘s September issue deemed the competition between Xiaomi and Apple one of the biggest ongoing business rivalries, but also noted that Xiaomi’s success beyond China’s borders was still yet to be determined:
The companies’ global ambitions will increasingly collide, as Xiaomi has begun experimenting in markets outside China. It recently moved to sell accessories like headphones and activity trackers in the U.S. and Europe, though many of the factors that make the company a phenomenon back home—such as Lei’s local celebrity—are moot here in the States. Xiaomi also lacks the sort of patent portfolio that would shield it from intellectual-property lawsuits from Apple or other companies. Meanwhile, its value proposition—high specs at low prices—may not resonate in fully developed economies. “In the U.S., the sort of person Xiaomi is competing for just doesn’t exist,” says Thompson. “Most geeks and enthusiasts can afford an iPhone.”
[via Tech Insider]