Ever since Xiaomi started conquering China’s market, it has been labeled a copycat – the “Apple of China.” Whether it is the product design, user interface or branding, it is quite obvious that the Beijing-based company has been very inspired by Apple’s products and has likely chosen its design strategy because of Apple’s huge popularity in its home market.
Though Xiaomi has denied these allegations in particularly its former Vice President of International, Hugo Barra, the signs are hard to miss. CEO and co-founder of Xiaomi Lei Jun has repeatedly been compared with Steve Jobs because of his presentations and the iconic “I just came from fixing my car in the garage” style choice. At one point, Chinese netizens even labeled him a Steve Jobs protégé by adding “-bs” to his last name.
Xiaomi’s latest design gaffe is its physical store layout. The minimalistic white walls and wooden display tables suspiciously reminded us of Apple stores.
However, what differentiates Apple’s from Xiaomi’s stores is the sheer number of different gadgets. Apple has been somewhat conservative in expanding its scope of products, choosing to invest in quality over quantity.
On the other hand, Xiaomi has been heavily investing in gadgets. After establishing its Exploration Lab in 2016, the company has invested in 77 smart gadget startups with plans to build a Xiaomi Ecosystem. The new toys have caught the eyes of the public. From VR sets to air purifiers, drones, power banks, smart bands, Mi TV, Mi Notebook Air, smart e-bikes, washing machines and rice cookers (which also brought accusations of copying competitors’ design), Xiaomi has filled its stores with all kinds of goodies waiting for customers to try them out.
The interesting part is that Xiaomi has been able to keep up with the clean, minimalistic style it has defined in the beginning of the company’s quest to bring high quality phones at low prices. Now that the Xiaomi brand is recognized both in China and abroad, it seems strange that the company would insist on ripping off Apple’s designs, even when it comes to something low tech as tables!
(All photos by Masha Borak/All China Tech. All rights reserved.)