New Wave of China Power

Apple’s iPhone 5S and 5C officially went on sale on China Mobile, the world’s largest carrier. Even though it already has 1.2m pre-orders, something even more exciting is happening in China.

Xiaomi Inc., the startup that has rattled China’s smartphone market with its fast-selling handsets, is looking to tap its international fan base for help as it tries to expand abroad, according to its new American executive.

Last year, Xiaomi Global hired their Vice President Hugo Barra, the former Google Inc. official who joined the Chinese company in October, said the smartphone maker—which in recent months began selling phones in Hong Kong and Taiwan—will likely next begin sales in Southeast Asia, though he didn’t give a time frame.

Xiaomi plans to make use of its fans in other markets to popularize its phones and overcome language and border barriers, Mr. Barra said. “We have fans everywhere,” Mr. Barra said in an interview, his first with foreign media in China. “We’re on a mission. We want to have an impact in the world.”

Started in 2010 by Chinese entrepreneur Lei Jun, closely held Xiaomi sells high-end phones for prices close to cost. Its flagship Mi 3 phone costs $326, less than half the price of top models from Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. Xiaomi, which is worth $10 billion according to its most recent round of fundraising, expects to sell about 20 million handsets in 2013.

It is fascinating to see another growing power in China. We’ll see how Hugo Barra could help this China-based technology company going global.

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