Hongmi: The Chinese smartphone that sold 100,000 units in 90 seconds

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Xiaomi, the company who created the Hongmi, say they are like Apple, Amazon and Google combined

Reports published this month by Gartner revealed that for the first time more smartphones are being sold than feature phones globally. The Hongmi, a Chinese smartphone that sold 100,000 units in 90 seconds, is a perfect example of this trend, showing how the global shift is thanks in no small part to the fast-growing Asian markets.

Xiaomi, the company who made the phone, announced the news via their Sina Weibo account, following it up by mentioning that a further 7.45 million devices had been reserved. Xiamoi tends to only build as many devices as they believe they will sell in a given year, meaning that they often deliver their phones over a longer period of time.

It’s not hard to see why the Hongmi (it means Red Rice) sold out so blisteringly quickly. For a start it costs just 799 RMB (£83) and whilst the price is budget, the hardware is extremely respectable.

The smartphone comes with a 4.7-inch screen with a resolution of 720 x 1280 (that’s approximately 312 ppi) and packs a quad-core 1.5GHz processor. Whilst there is only 1GB of RAM and 4GB of internal memory, the total memory can be expanded up to 32GB with a microSD card.

There’s also a rear-facing 8-megapixel camera and a 1.3-megapixel lens on the front, as well as all the usual gryos and accelerometer sensors.  But for those considering shipping over a handset for use in the UK, the Hongmi only supports TD-SCDMA 3G meaning it can’t be used outside of China.

Based on the success of the Hongmi, Xiaomi expect to sell 20 million smartphones by the end of the year.

The Hongmi isn't the only success story from Xiaomi; their flagship model, the Mi 2S, is China’s most popular selling phone (it’s little brother, the Mi 2 shifting 7.19m units in 2012 as reported by TechCrunch) and the handset has been outperforming the likes of the HTC one and equalling Samsung’s S4 in a series of tests by Chinese benchmarking company Antutu.

TechCrunch points out that again, the real kicker is the price: the Mi 2S costs just 1699 RMB (that’s £177), a snap compared to the Samsung S4, which retails in the UK Sim-free for around £550. So how does Xiaomi manage to sell such impressive phones at these prices?

The answer can be found in Xiaomi’s business model, and their impressive range of web services. In an interview with Reuters, the company’s founder and CEO Lei Jun explained:

“The mobile phone itself is only the carrier. Microsoft used to sell Windows in a box with a CD in it. Does that make Microsoft a paper-box company? The CD is only the carrier. People don’t understand this; they can’t understand what type of company Xiaomi is.”

Xiaomi Founder and CEO Lei Jun

Jun notes that Xiaomi is already China’s third largest ecommerce company – not bad for a company that also sells the nation’s most popular phones – and that their revenue from web services alone is $3.2 million a month, predicted to rise to around $21 to $24m a month by the end of next year.

As well as ecommerce, Xiaomi has its own games center and pushes a home-built and heavily-modified take on the Android OS called MIUI (pronounced 'Me You I'). Whilst Apple makes profits from high margins on its products, Xiaomi wants to put its phones in as many hands as possible to attract revenue from its internet services.

“Xiaomi selling mobile phones is like Amazon selling Kindles,” says Jun, “so you can understand why we sell them so cheap.” Jun also thinks that comparing the company to Apple isn’t at all right:

“Xiaomi and Apple are two completely different things […] If people really want to compare Xiaomi to a foreign company then you could say it looks a bit like Apple, but it’s really more like Amazon with some elements of Google. So take these three companies together.”

Despite Jun's confidence, Xiaomi still only accounts for 5 per cent of the Chinese smartphone market (Apple has 4.8 per cent whilst the clear market leader is Samsung with 17.6 per cent). The company estimates that it will sell 20 million devices in 2013 (doublings its 2012 sales), but even with this rapid growth Xiaomi still has some way to go before it's on the scale of Apple, Amazon, or Google. Still, with neither Apple nor Google selling phones at the rate Xiaomi does, perhaps it won't be long until the Chinese company catches up.

Xiaomi's MIUI firmware, based on the Android OS.  

i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

    £35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

    Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000

    £28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: QA Tester - London - £30,000 QA Tes...

    Ashdown Group: Linux Administrator - London - £50,000

    £45000 - £50000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrator ...

    Ashdown Group: Business Intelligence Analyst - London - £45,000

    £40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: SQL Server Reporting Analyst (Busine...

    Day In a Page

    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
    How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

    Time to play God

    Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
    MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

    MacGyver returns, but with a difference

    Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
    Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

    Tunnel renaissance

    Why cities are hiding roads underground
    'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

    Boys to men

    The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
    Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

    Crufts 2015

    Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
    10 best projectors

    How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

    Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
    Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

    Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

    Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
    Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

    Monaco: the making of Wenger

    Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

    Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

    Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

    This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
    'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

    Homage or plagiarism?

    'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
    Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower