[Exclusive] Xiaomi Co-founder Hong Feng on MIUI

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We heard that the monthly revenue from MIUI reached 10 million yuan. Hong Feng, co-founder and lead of MIUI, confirmed the number in an interview at our ChinaBang 2013. He added that that’s just the beginning of monetization.

Hong Feng used to work at Google China as senior product manager leading local services such as music search and input method. Three years ago he was invited by Lei Jun, CEO of Xiaomi, to become one of the seven founders. The first version of MIUI was launched four months after the inception of Xiaomi company.

MIUI announced 15 million installs and officially release the latest version, MIUI V5, not long ago. Approaching 10 million were in Xiaomi phones shipped and the rest were installed in non-Xiaomi Android phones. Xiaomi claims MIUI is the best customized Android ROM on the market.

Hong Feng is proud that MIUI has a group of core, loyal users who are active on its platform. MIUI is well-known for its online forum that engineers would answer questions from users and collect user needs there. His team also visit users in different cities regularly. He’s also proud that fans around the world did 22 language versions, apart from three official language versions, for MIUI.

Apart from gaming, other revenues generated from MIUI are mainly derived from the built-in browser with paid placements on the start-page, paid search, and the app center, according to Mr. Hong. Also, the company has been selling paid theme designs that the sales must be minor compared with gaming.

ARPU of gaming, in general, is relatively high. It’s no wonder more and more Chinese mobile service providers, such as UCWeb and 91, set up gaming platforms to monetize their big user pools. The users, 3-4 mn, of the games center within MIUI are very active, Hong said. Xiaomi also partners with game companies to custom editions of popular games tailored to MIUI users.

Duokan, the mobile reading platform acquired by Xiaomi last year, is exclusive of the sources that make up the 10 million monthly revenue. Duokan has been selling digital books and now has 30 thousand paying users. It hopes to make profits in 2014 that needs one million paying users, according to Hu Xiaodong, VP at Duokan.

When asked about the monetization plans in the near future, Hong said that they’d just try to produce the best possible products at the lowest possible prices — which means they’d try to gain as many users as possible and profit from them later and gradually.

It’s no secret that companies with considerable user bases, Qihoo, Sogou, UCWeb, 91 and the like, are trying to profit from every possible source, gaming, CPM/CPC-based advertising, CPC/CPS-based e-commerce transactions, paid digital content, etc. When it comes to a customized Android ROM? It works the same.