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Why Xiaomi is iPhone’s arch-rival in China, India and Brazil?

iphone in China, xiaomi


When the new iOS 9 comes out this fall, Apple's iPhone Maps app will finally offer public-transit directions. At first, the feature will be available for just 10 cities worldwide. Except in China, that is, where it's launching in more than 300 localities at once.

iOS 9移动操作系统今年秋季发布时,苹果iPhone Maps应用将提供公共交通乘坐指南。起初,这一功能将仅覆盖全球10个城市。但在中国是个例外,iPhone Maps应用将同时覆盖逾300个地区。

 

This is just the latest indication of how much Apple cares about China and its booming class of affluent consumers, which Tim Cook has said he expects to become Apple's largest market. If he's right, it will be because the company has figured out how to fend off one of the most unstoppable forces the tech industry has ever seen: Xiaomi.

这只是苹果重视中国及其迅速增加的高收入人群的最新信号。苹果首席执行官蒂姆·库克(Tim Cook)曾表示,他预计中国将成为该公司最大的市场。如果库克的预言成真,原因将是苹果成功找到了应对小米——这家科技产业有史以来最势不可挡的公司之一的方法。

 

Founded by serial entrepreneur Lei Jun in 2010 and headquartered in Beijing, Xiaomi announced its first smartphone in 2011. A little over three years later, research firm IDC declared Xiaomi to be the industry's third biggest player in terms of global unit sales, trailing only Samsung and Apple. Nearly all of the 61 million handsets it produced in 2014 were for the Chinese market.

小米创办于2010年,2011年推出了首款智能手机。3年多过后,市场研究公司IDC称小米是仅次于三星和苹果的全球第三大智能手机厂商(按销量计算)。在小米2014年生产的6100万部手机中,几乎全部都是在中国市场销售的。

 

In the West, Xiaomi has a reputation for shamelessly cribbing the iPhone's stylistic cues and applying them to dirt-cheap phones. That's clearly Apple design honcho Jonathan Ive's take: "I think it's theft, and it's lazy," he snapped, when asked about the company at a conference last October.

在西方,小米被认为肆无忌惮地抄袭iPhone的设计。苹果设计掌门乔纳森·艾维(Jonathan Ive)去年10月份在一次会议上曾明确表示,"我认为小米就是个窃贼,是在偷懒。"

 

Xiaomi is doing too many interesting things to be dismissed as a mere Apple wannabe, though. Its Mi smartphones appeal to "a technically inclined, geeky, typically younger sort of customer who can't afford a top-of-the line Apple or Samsung phone," says Ben Thompson, whose Stratechery blog is avidly followed by tech-industry insiders.

小米还采取了许多有趣的措施,不能被轻率地认为是苹果模仿者。博客网站Stratechery博主本·汤姆逊(Ben Thompson)表示,小米的米系列手机对"了解技术的极客,通常是没有足够多的钱购买三星或苹果手机的年青人"有吸引力。

 

Xiaomi sells Android phones with fast chips, high-resolution screens, and other potent technologies via its own website—often via flash sales—and foregoes profits on hardware, instead generating them from its marketplace for apps, games, and other content.

小米通过其网站销售——经常是限时销售配置高速芯片、高分辨率显示屏和其他先进技术的Android手机,不通过硬件赚钱,而是通过应用、游戏和其他内容赚钱。

 

It rolls out weekly software updates based on input from its online community of fans, who spot bugs and propose new features. And it's using its muscle as a direct marketer to enter other product categories, ranging from 4K TVs to air purifiers.

小米根据用户的反馈每周都会发布软件更新包。小米还利用其直销商的优势涉足包括从4K电视到空气净化器在内的其他产品领域。

 

None of this has prevented Apple from thriving in China, though, where the iPhone's powerful image as a luxury item helps it continue to command a high price tag. In fact, for two quarters in a row, Apple has sold more smartphones in the country than Xiaomi has.

但小米的所作所为并未能阻止苹果业务在中国市场的快速增长,iPhone奢侈品的品牌形象使得其价格仍然能"高高在上"。事实上,苹果在中国的手机销量已连续两个季度超过小米。

 

The companies' global ambitions will increasingly collide, as Xiaomi has begun experimenting in markets outside China. It recently moved to sell accessories like headphones and activity trackers in the U.S. and Europe, though many of the factors that make the company a phenomenon back home—such as Lei's local celebrity—are moot here in the States.

随着小米开始涉足海外市场,两家公司间的碰撞将越来越多。小米最近开始在美国和欧洲销售耳机、运动追踪器等产品,小米能在中国市场成为奇迹的许多因素,例如老板雷军的名人效应,在美国没有任何作用。

 

Xiaomi also lacks the sort of patent portfolio that would shield it from intellectual-property lawsuits from Apple or other companies. Meanwhile, its value proposition—high specs at low prices—may not resonate in fully developed economies. "In the U.S., the sort of person Xiaomi is competing for just doesn't exist," says Thompson. "Most geeks and enthusiasts can afford an iPhone."

小米也缺乏能使自己不会受到苹果和其他公司侵权诉讼的大量专利。小米的价值主张——高配低价,在发达经济体也不被认可。汤姆逊表示,"在美国,小米的目标客户群体不存在,大多数极客和手机爱好者能买得起iPhone。"


A more promising battleground for Xiaomi could be India, where it has been wildly promoting the Mi4 and is setting up local manufacturing (to help it bring the price tag of its devices even lower), and where the free-spending types who snap up iPhones are scarcer than in China.

对于小米来说更有潜力的市场是印度。小米在印度大力推广米4手机,并在印度设立生产基地(有助于它进一步降低设备价格),在印度,能买得起iPhone的人更少。

 

There's also Brazil, which Xiaomi entered by storm in June with its $160 Redmi 2. (The iPhone retails for more than $1,000 in the country.) As Ben Bajarin, an analyst at Creative Strategies, puts it, these are "very big markets nowhere near saturated, where Xiaomi's strategy could do really well." Which is why Apple's home turf feels like safe ground—at least for now.

还有巴西,小米6月份在巴西推出了价格为160美元的红米2(iPhone在巴西的零售价超过1000美元)。市场研究公司Creative Strategies分析师本·巴加林(Ben Bajarin)表示,这些都是"尚未接近饱和的巨大市场,小米的策略在这些市场上会有非常好的表现。"这也是苹果在其主场还安全的原因——至少目前如此。

2016-06-24

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