Google ex­ec­u­tive to aid Xiaomi’s growth

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSINESS - By MENG JING mengjing@chi­

Chi­nese smart­phone maker Xiaomi Corp said on Thurs­day that it hired a top ex­ec­u­tive from Google Inc in a bid to boost its over­seas busi­ness.

Hugo Barra, who was Google’s vice- pres­i­dent of prod­uct man­age­ment for the com­pany’s An­droid op­er­at­ing sys­tem, will join Xiaomi in Oc­to­ber as head of in­ter­na­tional busi­ness de­vel­op­ment, Lei Jun, founder and chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of the Bei­jing-based Xiaomi, said on his Sina mi­cro blog.

“Barra’s en­try into Xiaomi signals the speed­ing up of the com­pany’s glob­al­iza­tion drive. Xiaomi started to tap the mar­ket out­side the Chi­nese main­land by launch­ing mo­bile phones in Hong Kong and Tai­wan in April. It’s likely that Xiaomi will ex­pand to other over­seas mar­kets af­ter Barra joins the team,” the com­pany said in a state­ment.

Xiaomi, which is backed by in­vestors in­clud­ing Te­masek Hold­ings Pte and Qiming Ven­ture Part­ners, said ear­lier this month that it had com­pleted its fourth round of fund­ing, giv­ing it a val­u­a­tion of $10 bil­lion.

The lat­est round of fund­ing has also made Xiaomi, which sells its phones di­rectly through its web­site, the fourth-largest In­ter­net com­pany in China, be­hind e-com­merce gi­ant Alibaba Group Hold­ing Ltd, ser­vice por­tal provider Ten­cent Hold­ings Ltd and search gi­ant Baidu Inc, which is an as­ton­ish­ing achieve­ment given the fact that Xiaomi only re­leased its first phone in 2011.

Barra, who joined Google in March 2008, said in his Google + Web page that he will join the Xiaomi team in China to help the com­pany ex­pand its prod­uct port­fo­lios and busi­ness glob­ally.

“I’m re­ally look­ing for­ward to this new chal­lenge, and I’m par­tic­u­larly ex­cited about the op­por­tu­nity to con­tinue help drive the An­droid sys­tem,” he said.

Google has also con­firmed that Barra has left.

“We wish Hugo Barra the best. We’ll miss him at Google and we’re ex­cited that he is stay­ing within the An­droid ecosys­tem,” the com­pany said in a state­ment.

Xiaomi didn’t re­veal which over­seas mar­kets will be the fo­cus of its glob­al­iza­tion drive, but James Yan, an an­a­lyst at In­ter­na­tional Data Corp, a global mar­ket in­tel­li­gence firm, said that the com­pany may first ex­pand to mar­kets in South­east Asia later this year and then tap the Euro­pean and US mar­kets early next year.

“Al­though the Chi­nese mo­bile phone mar­ket is huge, it’s still cru­cial for com­pa­nies to ex­pand to other mar­kets if they want to be stronger and big­ger,” said Yan.

Yan said Barra is prob­a­bly go­ing to fo­cus on the de­vel­op­ment of ap­pli­ca­tions and soft­ware af­ter join­ing Xiaomi. It’s also likely that the com­pany will hire an­other in­ter­na­tional ex­ec­u­tive, who will take charge of de­vice de­vel­op­ment, he said.

Data from sev­eral In­ter­net con­sul­tancy firms showed that Xiaomi sold more smart­phones than Ap­ple Inc in China in the sec­ond quar­ter of the year. Fig­ures from IDC said that Xiaomi’s rank­ing is still lower than Ap­ple, but among the top 10 best sell­ers in China be­tween April and June.

The fast-grow­ing Xiaomi booked 13.27 bil­lion yuan ($ 2.15 bil­lion) in rev­enue for the first half, ex­ceed­ing the amount it recorded for the whole of last year, which stood at 12.6 bil­lion yuan, ac­cord­ing to the com­pany’s fi­nan­cial re­port.

Xiaomi has won sales with its in­ex­pen­sive hand­sets run­ning Google’s An­droid op­er­at­ing sys­tem. While Ap­ple sells the iPhone 5 on its Chi­nese web­site start­ing from 5,288 yuan, Xiaomi’s most ex­pen­sive hand­set is priced at 1,699 yuan. Shen Jingting con­trib­uted to this story.

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