Xiaomi, the most popular Chinese startup in recent days that makes high-quality smartphones and sells them for half the cost of the iPhone or Samsung Galaxy, announced its new flagship phone, the Mi4, in China last week.
Just like the Mi3 from last year, the Mi4 is a high-end device that doesn’t cost too much. Xiaomi is selling the 16GB model for around $320, and the 64GB model for around $405. Both models are available in two color versions: black and white.
But the fame didn’t last long enough. By the time announcement of Xiaomi the people on the internet started talking about it as the another Apple copycat. That news was fastest growing everywhere and that made Xiaomi more popular than ever and sold millions of devices.
The ex-Google executive Hugo Barra, started working for xiaomi since last fall, denied the all the claims that are made by people online. He announced that after the Mi4 all these claims about Xiaomi copying Apple will just be just Sweeping Sensationalist Statements” from the people who don’t spend enough time with Xiaomi products to realize they are actually very different from Apple products.
The Daring Fireball’s John Gruber who has been collecting evidences about Xiaomi is not just influenced by Apple, it appears to literally copy and paste Apple’s work and pass it off as its own.
Xiaomi’s CEO Lei Jun introduced a new fitness band that was teased with a “One more thing…” slide, a tactic Apple made famous back in the day when it had a surprise announcement. During the Mi4 event.
Finally, it’s tough to deny that the Mi4 looks very similar to the iPhone 5S:
Or Xiaomi’s tablet, the Mi Pad, looks very identical to the iPad Mini. It even has the same screen size and resolution:
Things get even more amusing if you dig through more of Xiaomi’s marketing materials. As Gruber pointed out, the website that shows off the Mi3’s camera uses photos from sources like National Geographic and copyrighted photos from professional photographers on Flickr and passes them off as images taken with the phone.
For example, here’s an original, copyrighted photo from a professional on Flickr:
And following are Xiaomi’s marketing images:
Hugo Barra remained firm in his original statement that Xiaomi doesn’t copy Apple.
Still, Xiaomi is an incredible success story. Its phones are only available in a handful of countries right now, but it has plans to expand to more emerging markets like Brazil and India later this year. Plus, Xiaomi already sells more phones in China than Apple does and poses a very real threat to Samsung, the largest smartphone maker in the world, because its Android phones do pretty much the same thing, but cost half as much.
Xiaomi doesn’t have any immediate plans to expand to the U.S. or Europe, but as TechCrunch’s Matt Burns pointed out, it’s going to have to rethink its marketing strategy and eliminate anything that even smells like copying Apple or other competitors if it wants to stand a chance.