The second-most valuable startup in the world is in trouble


xiaomi ceo lei jun


Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun

Chinese smartphone giant Xiaomi set a high goal for itself this year: sell 100 million phones.


Then, in March, CEO Lei Jun scaled back that goal to 80 to 100 million phones sold. Xiaomi announced in July that it sold 34.7 million smartphones in the first half of 2015.

But now, it's looking like the hype surrounding the company is dying down, and the fast-growing, super-valuable company will have trouble meeting its lofty goals.

A report from research firm Trendforce says Xiaomi will sell about 70 million phones this year. And according to TechInAsia, Canalys, another research firm, says Xiaomi's Q3 sales in 2015 dropped year-on-year for the first time ever.

By comparison, Xiaomi sold and shipped 60 million phones last year, beating its projection of 40 million. Xiaomi sells low-cost, high-quality phones, which sell for about $100-$300. Meanwhile, iPhones sell for $650-$1,000. According to data published in August, Xiaomi was China's top smartphone company in China in Q2 2015.


Besides withering hype, there are a number of factors contributing to Xiaomi's slowdown - China's smartphone market is saturated with competing brands like Huawei and OnePlus. Additionally, Xiaomi hasn't completely expanded globally yet - its markets include China, India, Brazil, and some emerging markets, with plans to launch in the US in "a few years."

Known as the "Apple of China" for its immense popularity in the country, Xiaomi has been criticized for its similarities to the American tech giant. Apple design chief Jony Ive once called Xiaomi's designs "theft." (Xiaomi denies the claim).

In the past five years, Xiaomi has come out of nowhere to become not only one of China's biggest smartphone manufacturers, but also one of the most valuable startups in the world, with an eye-popping $46 billion valuation.

Xiaomi is known for selling its cheap, but high-quality Android devices in developing countries. It also makes a number of other products, including fitness trackers.

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