You've probably never heard of Xiaomi. But if you know someone in China, chances are pretty good that person is a fan of the company. Xiaomi is easily one of the most interesting tech companies right now, and it has been dubbed the "Apple of China" by a lot of industry watchers. That's mostly because it's done a great job of mimicking the way Apple announces and markets its products.
Oh, and Xiaomi is worth about $10 billion now. Oh, and it sold more phones in China than Apple did last quarter. Xiaomi is most famous for its flagship Android phone line called the MiPhone and its founder and CEO Lei Jun, an extroverted character who has been called "China's Steve Jobs."
It's not that Xiaomi is doing anything particularly innovative with its products either. Its phones are pretty standard Android devices. Nothing special. But it has the same charm and flare that has caused millions to become devoted fans of the brand. It's not unusual for new Xiaomi phones to sell out online within a minutes.
How does Xiaomi do it? To be blunt, it pretty much rips pages out of Apple's playbook. Jun wears a black shirt and jeans, just like Steve Jobs did. He stands in front of a big screen with a well-designed presentation that shows off the product. He gets the audience pumped. It's like watching an Apple keynote from an alternate reality.