The news is good for Xiaomi phone users. The Google Pixel Launcher is now available to download on all Xiaomi phones.
The most recent smartphones from Google are called Pixel and Pixel XL. The Google Pixel Launcher was created especially for them. At first it seemed the launcher would only be available to these specific devices, but Google has made it available beyond the Pixel and Pixel XL. Xiaomi phone owners now have access to the Google Pixel Launcher as well.
Google Pixel Launcher
The Google Pixel Launcher is the newest launcher app that comes already installed in Google’s latest smartphones, the Pixel and the Pixel XL. For other Android smartphones, like Xiaomi, the launcher is available for download in the Google Play Store.
With the Google Pixel Launcher, Google provides individualized information with a simple swipe. It gives you easy access to Google Search by placing a shortcut on your phone`s home screen. The launcher allows you to swipe up from the bottom of your phone screen to access all of your apps, organized from A-Z. Suggestions for apps are brought to the top of the list based on the app you’re searching for. There is the option to long-press on apps to move right where you need to go. You can also slide the shortcuts from the home screen by long-pressing on them.
Xiaomi – the Company and Products
Xiaomi is a young company that launched in China in 2010. It has grown exponentially since its launch and is now the fourth top manufacturer of smartphones in the world. It is relatively unknown in North America, but is widely popular in Asia, and has been steadily expanding in other parts of the world, including Brazil, Indonesia, and South Africa.
Despite having the majority of their consumers in Asia only, Xiaomi is ready and able to give Samsung and Apple a run for their money in the smartphone industry. It has been reported that Xiaomi sold more than 60 million smartphones in 2014 alone.
Xiaomi has over eight thousand employees, and has expanded into markets beyond the smartphone. Their other products include:
- Mobile apps
- Fitness trackers
- Smart home products such as a blood pressure monitors, air purifiers, smart scales, water purifiers, rice cookers and robotic vacuums
Smartphones remain the primary product for Xiaomi. Their first smartphone, Xiaomi Mi 1 was released in August of 2011. The company designs and develops all of their own products, but there have been similarities to other prominent smartphone companies such as Apple and Samsung.
It was August 2012 when Xiaomi announced their second smartphone, Xiaomi Mi 2. The company has stated that it sold over 10 million Mi 2 smartphones within the first eleven months.
The most recent launch was the Redmi 4A, which was released in November 2016. Just a month prior was the release of the Mi 5s, which is said to be the most powerful phone yet from the six-year-old company. It retails for approximately $300 in China.
Previous Xiaomi smartphones include:
- Mi 5, released March 2016
- Redmi Note 4 hit the market in August 2016
- Redmi Note 3, introduced December 2015
- Mi Max, released July 2016
Xiaomi is not short on design, vision or productivity. It is full of creative minds, hard-working individuals, passionate managers and loyal customers.
Xiaomi was co-founded by eight partners in April 2010. The average age of the founders at the time was 45, and between them was a wealth of knowledge relating to the world of smartphones and other electronic devices. They were veterans with combined experiences at monumental companies such as Google, Microsoft and Motorola.
The founders believed that devices that were on the market at the time had failed to develop anything that met the needs of Chinese consumers. They saw the opportunity and seized it.
The current CEO (and one of the original founders) is Lei Jun. According to Forbes Lei is the twenty-third richest person in China.
With headquarters in Beijing, the majority of the company`s employees work in China, India, Malaysia and Singapore.
In a major move that impressed the smartphone world, Xiaomi hired Hugo Barra from Google in August 2013. At Google, Barra was the Vice President of Product Management for the Android platform. His role at Xiaomi is Vice President, specifically tasked with global expansion.
Xiaomi first expanded from China into India in July 2014. It entered through flipkart.com, which is an online shopping website in India. It is comparable to amazon.com in North America.
Xiaomi – Marketing Strategies
When it comes to selling their smartphones, Xiaomi uses a marketing strategy quite unlike other smartphone companies. Xiaomi does not have any actual stores. It sells exclusively online.
Xiaomi manages to keep their prices reasonable for consumers, while not compromising on the quality of the product. CEO Lei Jung has said their smartphones are priced nearly at cost. The company uses other products such as apps, online videos, phone accessories and smart home products to make up on profit.
To further reduce overhead costs, Xiaomi does not use any traditional marketing methods such as commercials, media spots or print ads. The company relies mainly on social media and word-of-mouth to advertise their products. They appear to have mastered this form of publicizing since their company is one of the biggest smartphone companies in the world at only six years old.
Xiaomi also keeps a firm grip on its stock. By controlling this, they are able to place cheaper mass orders based on consumer demand. They are known for having limited availability flash sales to ensure the demand never outweighs the supply. The flash sales also help further promote the product. Consumers are constantly intrigued by something that is limited, and therefore not available to everyone.
Another key to the success of Xiaomi is that they listen and incorporate the feedback of their customers. They ask loyal consumers to test out upcoming products and new features, which helps to build a large online community.
CEO Lei Jung has said that he previously had the opportunity to work with big companies Nokia and Motorola. When he pointed out inadequacies in their products or made suggestions for improvements, he was acknowledged for the input, but his thoughts were ultimately ignored. Therefore, he decided that with his company, he would listen to customers and seriously consider all feedback and suggestions.
Xiaomi`s managers spend hours weekly searching through the company`s users` tools and forums to see what customers are talking about. The forums reportedly have forty million users. If the managers see a suggestion that has possibility, they forward it to their engineers immediately. Consumer suggestions can turn from simple ideas to products or tweaks on products within a short amount of time.
Listening and responding to customers builds a level of trust with Xiaomi. Customers feel valued and important when their feedback is acknowledged and acted upon.
The Heart of Xiaomi
Xiaomi does not view itself as a hardware company, despite the millions in profits it makes from its products. While Apple focuses their business on getting consumers to buy their products, Xiaomi believes they are more like Google.
Hugh Barra has said, `We are an internet company`.
Standing at the center of Xiaomi being “an internet company“ is its MiUI. MiUI stand for Mi User Interface and is pronounced “Me You I“. It is a “stock and aftermarket firmware for smartphones and tablet computers based on the Google Android operating system“. (Wikipedia.org)
All Xiaomi smartphones come with MiUI completely installed. This includes different apps and various features that are special to the smartphones.
Aside from bring on their own products, Xiaomi has also offered for MiUI to be used on other smartphone devices including Samsung, Sony and Nexus.
In February of 2016, Xiaomi claimed that MiUI ROM had more than one hundred and seventy million users across the world.
MiUI offers many things to consumers. It has an app store, as well as cloud storage. It can sync with other Xiaomi products. It has photos, mail and music. For users in China, it has location awareness and offers ride-summoning similar to Uber. Users can also purchase train or movie tickets and can book medical appointments.
Xiaomi has many other MiUI based devices besides the smartphone. These include:
- MiWiFi, a network router
- Mi TV, first announced in 2013
- MiBox, which is a set-box for televisions that offers movies and televisions shows and does not require a subscription
- MiCloud, a cloud storage service
- MiTalk, a messaging service
- MiPower Bank, an external battery
- Mi Band, a fitness tracker and sleep monitor
- Mi Personal Transport, which includes electric bikes and scooters
MiUI has been criticized for being too similar to Apple`s iOS and Samsung`s TouchWiz.
Is MiUI compatible with Google Pixel Launcher
Some may wonder if the Google Pixel Launcher is compatible with MiUI on the Xiaomi smartphones.
In the past Google Play services have not been available on MiUI powered smartphones. This is due to disagreements between Google and the Chinese government, which left access to most Google services blocked for users in China. However, MiUI devices outside of China have had Google services.
The version of the Google Pixel Launcher that just became available to Xiaomi smartphone users is developed for device with MiUI.
The Future of Xiaomi
There is no question that Xiaomi is a success corporation. Growing from a small private start-up to a massive company that is continually expanding is impressive. In 2015, MIT Technology Review listed Xiaomi at number 2 on the list of 50 Smartest Companies.
Xiaomi has built a loyal following, particularly in the China market. It hopes to replicate the success its had in China in other areas of the world.
Xiaomi must continually focus on the future. Competition for smartphone and related products is high, especially with the two giants, Apple and Samsung.
Xiaomi`s popularity is rapidly rising in India. The next big target is Brazil.
Xiaomi has expressed an interest in launching the US, although there are no plans to do it in the near future. Hugh Barra has said that when they make the move there, it will be a slow progress. Xiaomi faces far more competition in the American market than it does in China, India or Brazil. They do currently sell their fitness trackers in the US through their e-commerce store.
Entering new markets is key to the continued success of Xiaomi. The company has a loyal following, but there will always be more companies coming up that will offer different products and better prices. Xiaomi is already facing threats from Huawei and Vivo in certain markets.
There`s one area where Xiaomi still leads and that is the “smart home“ market. The company is working on developing a connected hardware ecosystem that includes TVs, wireless routers and air purifiers. They want to make the “smart home“ a reality for their consumers.
The idea is to have their smartphones and MiUI as the central products offering an integrated system where people do not have to face confusion when trying to connect their various products at home. This system would allow everything to connect to one platform easily.
A Company to Watch
With the Google Pixel Launcher now available on Xiaomi smartphones, one would expect that more will be offered in the near future. With this recent development, along with the continued expansion and growth, it is clear Xiaomi is now leaving the market any time soon.
Xiaomi has conquered most of Asia and is ready to spread its wings further. As it sneaks into other parts of the world, it is a company to pay attention to. They have reinvented the marketing on smartphones and other electronic devices, and managed to maintain a dedicated following over time.
The next step is the “smart home“, which is something many will be watching for.