Leijun, founder and CEO of smartphone vendor Xiaomi lately shared his thoughts on the developments and achievements the nascent company made over the past two years, we did an excerpt here to reveal some secret ingredients that made Xiaomi phone delicious, at least, to some it’s delicious.

In less than 3 years, with great efforts of the Xiaomi team, we have witnessed RMB 10 billion in sales by the end of November, and sold out in total 7 million Xiaomi phones. This report card is really beyond our expectation, and I have to say that it was just our luck.

Also, special thanks to two great companies, Apple and Nokia.

Apple ushers in the age of smart phone with aesthetic standard and a strict notion of design. The design philosophy it has is what Xiaomi has been following all along. We learnt from Apple that users do judge a book by its cover, that only the good-looking products attract consumers, get spread and win a good reputation. At the very beginning, Xiaomi had this recruiting rule that one-third of our staff members should be designers. From UI, icons, fonts to illustrators, every aspect of the product needs professional advice from the designers. I still remembered that when we were making the very first prototype of Xiaomi Phone, we used cameras. After many tries of shooting in different angles, the photos still look plain and clumsy. When it comes to Xiaomi 2.0, we decided to go for designers without hesitation, and a month later we got fabulous profile pictures created by them.

We splashed money on Xiaomi UI design. Every piece of wallpaper Xiaomi offered is carefully selected from 10,000 photos we bought. Admittedly, we’re not the only one doing so, probably because every company in this field wants their products to be unique. And how to achieve that depends on how beautiful your product can be.

Thank You also goes to Nokia. If Apple builds up a new empire of smart phones, then Nokia should be the one who stepped down from the former dynasty. That is to say, it gives room for other phone makers like us to survive. The fact that Nokia gave up the Symbian OS boosts the adoption of mobile internet globally.

Now I want to share some innovations Xiaomi has insisted on over the past years.

Firstly, we always pursue the best quality regardless of the costs. Xiaomi Phone takes the initiative in China to use quad-core, 1.5G CPU. Some had this misunderstanding of us by asking why Xiaomi chose the 8 million pixels camera instead of a 13 million pixels one which costs almost the same. Actually what we’ve been looking for is not products of the highest price, but of the highest quality. We didn’t use the 13 million pixels camera because it was still not very usable.

Secondly, Xiaomi’s online-sale-only model helps us achieve cost-efficiency. We only carry out marketing campaigns via internet, which saves us a good number of money. By doing so, we are able to sell Xiaomi at a very reasonable price. It happens to everyone that you find out the new gadget you just bought last month had dropped by RMB 1000. This could be very unhappy experience for consumers. Similarly, the Moore’s Law for PC also works on smart phone chips. The price is always changing, downward. Apple’s strategy is to keep the product price at a relatively stable level; in other words, products are seldom on sale. This could make the consumers feel good for a relatively long period. What Xiaomi does is just the opposite. We set our phone at low price, when we first launched Xiaomi Phone the price is merely the half of what our peers offered. We lose money in the initial stage but would pocket small profits later on.

Next point is called the Xiaomi Triathlon, namely the combination of our hardware, software and internet service. We are different because we are open on both hardware and software fronts. What is that? Have you imagined engaging in the hardware development process of a smart phone? Well, it’s just like the Beta test on the internet. We applied this notion into the UI design and even to our hardware development. Any advice or suggestions from our users will be promptly answered thus users grow a sense of involvement and belonging. Although this new approach has received some negative comments, we have many loyal fans those who actually engage in the production of Xiaomi phones and enjoy our services. We believe that this group of loyal users will influence their friends, and more people around them.

xiaomi sold phones on its official website

Lastly, on the Xiaomi fans. In the past we only cared about the business relationship between companies and consumers, now Xiomi wants to change this by making friends with our consumers. This relationship, as I say can be called the fans economy. I was first inspired by the operating mode of Motor Clubs, as a car lover myself I often have many needs and I want to get involved and realize the needs on my own.

Currently Xiaomi updates 45 to hundreds functions per week, of which 1/3 are provided by our XiaoMi Fans. Since the process of making phone is still kind of a mystery to the public, once the advice is adopted users would feel thrilled and couldn’t wait to share with their friends, this is very interesting to us. Xiaomi makes this kind of stories possible to hundred thousands people. This sort of interaction is more like radio broadcasting through which the listeners’ messages or phones would be said out loud and spread to the whole world. Apart from this, we are trying to transform the consuming process into a more entertainment-like gathering event. Our fans enjoy using the products and being part of the Xiaomi community. At the early stage, Xiaomi was not welcomed by a lot of people, but our loyal users never leave us. Actually the negative critics make our fans even closer to each other. Maybe that’s why our sales didn’t drop, but saw a wild rise this year.

动点科技驻湾区记者. Charlie is an entrepreneur based in San Francisco and Hong Kong who calls herself the undefeated caffeine champion. You can reach her at charlie.sheng (at) technode.com

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