Xiaomi enters Singapore to jump-start its international expansion
Mainland firm makes move as part of continuing international expansion
Mainland technology company Xiaomi is kicking off its much-anticipated international expansion this year by entering Singapore, which rivals Hong Kong as the market with the highest smartphone penetration rate in the Asia-Pacific region.
"It's finally official - Xiaomi is coming to Singapore!" Xiaomi Global vice-president Hugo Barra said in a post on his Google+ account yesterday.
No details were announced, but the Beijing-based, marketing-savvy smartphone maker confirmed the move through other social media, including Twitter and Facebook. Privately held Xiaomi started sales in Taiwan and Hong Kong in April last year.
Sandy Shen, the research director for consumer services at Gartner, said: "Hugo Barra was hired to lead Xiaomi's international growth, so I'd say the company is on track."
Barra, who resigned as Google's vice-president for Android product management in August, joined Xiaomi in September, a few months after the company took in US$216 million from its third round of fundraising last year.
While the mainland will remain the company's growth driver, Shen said Xiaomi will likely enter other Southeast Asian markets where smartphone sales are rising.
Data from Nielsen shows that 87 per cent of Singapore's population use smartphones, the same percentage as in Hong Kong. Malaysia had the next-highest penetration rate at 80 per cent. Thailand had a 49 per cent penetration rate, while Indonesia had 23 per cent.
In a separate post on Sina Weibo yesterday, Xiaomi chief executive Lei Jun forecast the company would ship 40 million smartphones this year, from the 18.7 million units it sold last year.
Gartner estimates that total smartphone sales this year in Asia, excluding Japan, will reach 224 million units.