To Become The Largest Smartphone Brand, It's A 'War Of Life And Death'

Lei Jun
Founder and CEO of Xiaomi

The smartphone business is a multi-billion dollar industry. Companies that have the resources and wits, may want to bet their chances.

But not many will survive, let alone thrive. The business is harsh and unforgiving, and is conquered only by a limited few.

In the West, there is Apple, and in the East, there was Huawei that was previously China's largest smartphone vendor, before being forced to pull out from the U.S. market.

In its place, is Xiaomi, another Chinese brand looking to not only be larger than Huawei, but also bigger than Apple.

The company is stepping up the challenge, with Xiaomi founder and chief executive Lei Jun saying that it's a "war of life and death."

If Xiaomi wants to continue growing, it needs to overcome that challenge. It needs to compete with Apple in its own game.

Lei Jun
Lei Jun.

In a post on his Weibo social media account, Lei said that:

"[We aim to] fully benchmark against Apple in [terms of] product and experience, and become China’s biggest high-end brand in the next three years."

"Xiaomi Group held the first important meeting since the beginning of the Year of the Tiger - the high-end strategy seminar. We made it clear: the high-end road is the only way for Xiaomi's growth, and it is also the war of life and death for Xiaomi's development. We will be unswerving. Execute the premiumization strategy."

For this to happen, Weibo needs to be competing in the realms Apple is conquering.

It needs to go heads on against Apple.

Lei said that Xiaomi must specifically focus on the high-end segment of the global smartphone market, attempting to fill the void that was left by Huawei.

What this means, Xiaomi needs to produce smartphones that outperform the iPhone in all areas.

Xiaomi also needs to attract more customers by distinguishing itself more clearly from other major Chinese Android smartphone brands that are also targeting Apple's lucrative high-end segment by focusing on user experience.

For Xiaomi, it's an uphill battle.

Xiaomi is a company best known as the designer and manufacturer of consumer electronics and related software, home appliances, and household items.

In the past, the company has been accused of imitating Apple.

At one point, its marketing strategy was seen as riding on the back of the "cult of Apple".

This was a fact, as Lei Jun himself is a fan of Steve Jobs.

Lei who read a book about the Apple co-founder when he was in college, cultivated a Steve Jobs image, including his clothing and announcement styles. Lei, who was named Businessman of the Year in 2014 by Forbes, was even characterized as a "counterfeit Jobs."

While the company Lei co-founded has somewhat moved on from stealing Apple’s product designs and names, in order to accomplish this ambitious attempt to compete directly with Apple, Xiaomi needs to completely reinvent the wheels.

As a company with deep pockets, Lei is certain that with the right ingredient, Xiaomi has the capacity to propel itself forward.