Xiaomi announced its third Android phone, MI3, today, claiming its the fastest on the market. Its look is completely different from the former two Xiaomi phones but a lot like Nokia Lumia.

It runs MIUI V5(a custom ROM by Xiaomi). It has two models; the one for users of China Unicom and China Telecom is powered by Qualcomm Snapdragon processor and the one for China Mobile users is with Nvidia Tegra4.

In July, Xiaomi celebrated its third birthday. Three years ago, Xiaomi started off trying to offer Chinese mid-price Android smartphones with value for money configuration. Xiaomi’s business model is just like Apple, selling phones, digital content and services. What’s different is Xiaomi doesn’t plan to make too much from hardware but from the software ecosystem.

Xiaomi sold 7.03 million phones, making a total of 13.27 billion yuan ($216 mn) in revenue in the first half of 2013. In 2012, a total of 7.9 million phones shipped that generated 12.6 billion yuan ($205 mn) in revenue for the company. Now Lei Jun, CEO of Xiaomi, sees the company’s annual revenues reach 100 billion yuan ($16 bn) in 2015, no later than 2016.

MIUI, the customized Android ROM by Xiaomi, has surpassed 20 million users. Apart from those pre-installed in Xiaomi phones, MIUI has several million independent installs in other Android phones.

Xiaomi began building software ecosystem from September 2012, according to Lei June. Major services in MIUI, from app store, e-book platform, to messaging service are redesigned and developed by Xiaomi team. Its built-in app store announced one billion downloads one year after its debut.

Mobile games now is generating RMB 10 million ($1.63 mn) in monthly revenue, more than half of MIUI total revenues. Other revenue streams include other paid apps, paid search and paid links/display ads, themes, among others.

Earlier this year Xiaomi phone arrived in Hong Kong and Taiwan signaling its expansion to outside of mainland China. More recently the company hired Hugo Barra, an executive working on Android at Google, to help its international expansion and issues on Android.

Like Apple, Xiaomi also has been working on other sectors such as set-top box, Smart TV and a digital content sales platform.

When it comes to the low-end phone, Xiaomi is ahead of Apple. The company released a low-end model, RedMi, in the middle of this year that is sold for less than half the cost of the list price of Xiaomi flagship phone.

Xiaomi management has confirmed that the company was valued at $10 billion in the latest round of financing. Previously it raised three rounds of funding, $41 million in 2010, $90 million in 2011 and $216 million in 2012.

image credit: Xiaomi Official Weibo Account

Tracey Xiang is Beijing, China-based tech writer. Reach her at traceyxiang@gmail.com

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