Lei had founded Kingsoft as well as Joyo.com, which he sold to Amazon for $75 million in 2004. At the time of the founding of the company, Lei was dissatisfied with the products of other mobile phone manufacturers and thought he could make a better product.
Xiaomi was founded in 2010 in Beijing by now multi-billionaire Lei Jun when he was 40 years old, along with six senior associates. Lei had founded Kingsoft as well as Joyo.com, which he sold to Amazon for $75 million in 2004. In August 2011, Xiaomi released its first smartphone and, by 2014, it had the largest market share of smartphones sold in China. By 2015, it was developing a wide range of consumer electronics. By 2018, it had the highest market share of smartphones in India and the fourth highest market share worldwide.
In 2010, the company raised $41 million in a Series A round.
On 6 April 2010 Xiaomi was co-founded by Lei Jun and six others:
On 16 August 2010, Xiaomi launched its first Android-based firmware MIUI.
Xiaomi (小米) is the Chinese word for "millet". In 2011 its CEO Lei Jun suggested there are more meanings than just the "millet and rice". He linked the "Xiao" (小) part to the Buddhist concept that "a single grain of rice of a Buddhist is as great as a mountain", suggesting that Xiaomi wants to work from the little things, instead of starting by striving for perfection, while "mi" (米) is an acronym for Mobile Internet and also "mission impossible", referring to the obstacles encountered in starting the company. He also stated that he thinks the name is cute. In 2012 Lei Jun said that the name is about revolution and being able to bring innovation into a new area. Xiaomi's new "Rifle" processor has given weight to several sources linking the latter meaning to the Communist Party of China's "millet and rifle" (小米加步枪) revolutionary idiom during the Second Sino-Japanese War.
In August 2011, the company launched its first phone, the Xiaomi Mi1. The device had Xiaomi's MIUI firmware along with Android installation.
In December 2011, the company raised $90 million in a Series B round.
In 2012, the company was said to be counterfeiting Apple's philosophy and mindset. In 2013, critics debated how much of Xiaomi's products were innovative, and how much of their innovation was just really good public relations.
In June 2012, the company raised $216 million of funding in a Series C round at a $4 billion valuation. Institutional investors participating in the first round of funding included Temasek Holdings, IDG Capital, Qiming Venture Partners and Qualcomm.
In November 2012, Xiaomi's smart set-top box stopped working one week after the launch due to the company having run afoul of China's State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television. The regulatory issues were overcome in January 2013.
In 2013, Xiaomi sold 18.7 million smartphones.
In January 2018, Xiaomi was criticized for its non-compliance with the terms of the GNU General Public License. The Android project's Linux kernel is licensed under the copyleft terms of the GPL, which requires Xiaomi to distribute the complete source code of the Android kernel and device trees for every Android device it distributes. By refusing to do so, or by unreasonably delaying these releases, Xiaomi is operating in violation of intellectual property law in China, as a WIPO state. Prominent Android developer Francisco Franco publicly criticized Xiaomi's behaviour after repeated delays in the release of kernel source code. Xiaomi in 2013 said that it would release the kernel code. The kernel source code is available on the GitHub website.
In August 2013, the company hired Hugo Barra from Google, where he served as vice president of product management for the Android platform. He was employed as vice president of Xiaomi to expand the company outside of mainland China, making Xiaomi the first company selling smartphones to poach a senior staffer from Google's Android team. He left the company in February 2017.
In September 2013, Xiaomi announced its Xiaomi Mi3 smartphone and an Android-based 47-inch 3D-capable Smart TV assembled by Sony TV manufacturer Wistron Corporation of Taiwan.
In October 2013, it became the fifth-most-used smartphone brand in China.
In 2014, the company sold over 60 million smartphones. In 2014, 94% of the company's revenue came from mobile phone sales.
On 19 January 2021, KPN, a Dutch landline and mobile telecommunications company, sued Xiaomi and others for patent infringement. KPN filed similar lawsuits against Samsung in 2014 and 2015 in a court in Texas.
In February 2014, Xiaomi announced its expansion outside China, with an international headquarters in Singapore.
In March 2014, Xiaomi Store Australia (an unrelated business) began selling Xiaomi mobile phones online in Australia through its website, XiaomiStore.com.au. However, Xiaomi soon "requested" that the store be shut down by 25 July 2014. On 7 August 2014, shortly after sales were halted, the website was taken down. An industry commentator described the action by Xiaomi to get the Australian website closed down as unprecedented, saying, "I’ve never come across this [before]. It would have to be a strategic move." At the time this left only one online vendor selling Xiaomi mobile phones into Australia, namely Yatango (formerly MobiCity), which was based in Hong Kong — although this business closed in late 2015.
In April 2014, Xiaomi purchased the domain name mi.com for a record US$3.6 million, the most expensive domain name ever bought in China, replacing xiaomi.com as the company's main domain name.
In September 2014, Xiaomi acquired a 24.7% stake in Roborock.
On 19 October 2014, the Indian Air Force issued a warning against Xiaomi phones, stating that they were a national threat as they sent user data to an agency of the Chinese government.
On 23 October 2014, Xiaomi announced that it was setting up servers outside of China for international users, citing improved services and compliance to regulations in several nations.
In December 2014, Xiaomi raised US$1.1 billion at a valuation of over US$45 billion, making it one of the most valuable private technology companies in the world. The financing round was led by Hong Kong-based technology fund All-Stars Investment Limited, a fund run by former Morgan Stanley analyst Richard Ji.
On 9 December 2014, the High Court of Delhi granted an ex parte injunction that banned the import and sale of Xiaomi products in India. The injunction was issued in response to a complaint filed by Ericsson in connection with the infringement of its patent licensed under fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory licensing. The injunction was applicable until 5 February 2015, the date on which the High Court was scheduled to summon both parties for a formal hearing of the case. On 16 December, the High Court granted permission to Xiaomi to sell its devices running on a Qualcomm-based processor until 8 January 2015. Xiaomi then held various sales on Flipkart, including one on 30 December 2014. Its flagship Xiaomi Redmi Note 4G phone sold out in six seconds. A judge extended the division bench's interim order, allowing Xiaomi to continue the sale of Qualcomm chipset-based handsets until March 2018.
In April 2015, Ratan Tata acquired a stake in Xiaomi.
On 30 June 2015, Xiaomi announced its expansion into Brazil with the launch of locally manufactured Redmi 2; it was the first time the company assembled a smartphone outside of China. However, the company left Brazil in the second half of 2016.
On 26 February 2016, Xiaomi launched the Mi5, powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 processor.
On 3 March 2016, Xiaomi launched the Redmi Note 3 Pro in India, the first smartphone to powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 650 processor.
On 10 May 2016, Xiaomi launched the Mi Max, powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 650/652 processor.
In June 2016, the company acquired patents from Microsoft.
Also in September 2016, the Xiaomi Mi Robot vacuum was released by Roborock.
In September 2016, Xiaomi launched sales in the European Union through a partnership with ABC Data.
On 26 October 2016, Xiaomi launched the Mi Mix, powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 821 processor.
In 2017, Xiaomi opened Mi Stores in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The EU's first Mi Store was opened in Athens, Greece in October 2017. On 7 November 2017, Xiaomi launched sales in Spain and Western Europe.
On 5 September 2017, Xiaomi released Xiaomi Mi A1, the first Android One smartphone under the slogan: Created by Xiaomi, Powered by Google. Xiaomi stated started working with Google for the Mi A1 Android One smartphone earlier in 2017. An alternate version of the phone was also available with MIUI, the MI 5X.
On 22 March 2017, Xiaomi announced that it planned to set up a second manufacturing unit in India in partnership with contract manufacturer Foxconn.
On 19 April 2017, Xiaomi launched the Mi6, powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor.
In July 2017, the company entered into a patent licensing agreement with Nokia.
In April 2018, Xiaomi announced a smartphone gaming brand called Black Shark. Its specifications are 6 GB of Snapdragon 845 RAM, and its price is $508, which is cheaper than its competitors.
In May 2018, Xiaomi began selling smart home products in the United States through Amazon.
On 3 May 2018, Xiaomi announced a partnership with 3 to sell smartphones in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Austria, Denmark, and Sweden
Xiaomi announced on 2 May 2018, the launch of Mi Music and Mi Video to offer "value-added internet services" in India.
In June 2018, Xiaomi became a public company via an initial public offering on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, raising $4.72 billion.
In August 2018, the company announced POCO as a mid-range smartphone line, first launching in India.
On 7 August 2018, Xiaomi announced that Holitech Technology Co. Ltd., Xiaomi's top supplier, would invest up to $200 million over the next three years to set up a major new plant in India.
In April 2019, researchers at Check Point found a security breach in Xiaomi phone apps. The security flaw was reported to be preinstalled.
In October 2019, the company announced that it would launch more than 10 5G phones in 2020, including the Mi 10/10 Pro with 5G functionality.
Xiaomi Corporation (/ˈʃaʊmiː/; Chinese: 小米 ), registered in Asia as Xiaomi Inc., is a Chinese designer and manufacturer of consumer electronics and related software, home appliances, and household items. Behind Samsung, it is the second largest manufacturer of smartphones, all of which run the MIUI operating system, a fork of Android. In 2020, the company sold 146.3 million smartphones and, as of August 2021, its MIUI operating system had over 450 million monthly active users. It also is a major manufacturer of appliances including televisions, flashlights, unmanned aerial vehicles, and air purifiers using its Internet of Things and Xiaomi Smart Home product ecosystems. The name "Xiaomi" literally means millet and rice, and is based on the Buddhist concept of starting from the bottom before aiming for the top.
On 17 January 2020, Poco became a separate sub-brand of Xiaomi with entry-level and mid-range devices.
In March 2020, Xiaomi showcased its new 40W wireless charging solution, which was able to fully charge a smartphone with a 4,000mAh battery from flat in 40 minutes.
On 30 April 2020, it was reported by Forbes that Xiaomi extensively tracks use of its browsers, including private browser activity, phone metadata, and device navigation, and more alarmingly, without secure encryption or anonymization, more invasively and to a greater extent than mainstream browsers. Xiaomi disputed the claims, while affirming that it did extensively collect browsing data, and saying that the data was not linked to any individuals and that consumers had consented to being tracked. Xiaomi posted a response stating that the collection of aggregated usage statistics data is used for internal analysis, and would not link any personally identifiable information to any of this data. However, after a followup by Gabriel Cirlig, the writer of the report, Xiaomi added an option to completely stop the information leak when using its browser in incognito mode.
In October 2020, Xiaomi became the third largest smartphone maker in the world by shipment volume, shipping 46.2 million handsets in Q3 2020.
In January 2021, the United States government named Xiaomi as a company "owned or controlled" by the People's Liberation Army and thereby prohibited any American company or individual from investing in it. However, the investment ban was blocked by a US court ruling after Xiaomi filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, with the court expressing skepticism regarding the government's national security concerns. Xiaomi denied the allegations of military ties and stated that its products and services were of civilian and commercial use. In May 2021, Xiaomi reached an agreement with the Defense Department to remove the designation of the company as military-linked.
On 30 March 2021, Xiaomi announced that it will invest US$10 billion in electric vehicles over the following ten years.
On 31 March 2021, Xiaomi announced a new logo for the company, designed by Kenya Hara.
Xiaomi's first logo consisted of a single orange square with the letters "MI" in white located in the center of the square. This logo was in use until 31 March 2021, when a new logo, designed by well-known Japanese designer Kenya Hara, replaced the old one, consisting of the same basic structure as the previous logo, but the square was replaced with a "squircle" with rounded corners instead, with the letters "MI" remaining identical to the previous logo, along with a slightly darker hue.
In July 2021, Xiaomi became the second largest smartphone maker in the world, according to Canalys. It also surpassed Apple for the first time in Europe, making it the second largest in Europe according to Counterpoint.
In July 2021, Xiaomi submitted a report to Amazon alleging that Wyze Labs had infringed upon its 2019 "Autonomous Cleaning Device and Wind Path Structure of Same" robot vacuum patent. On July 15, 2021, Wyze filed a lawsuit against Xiaomi in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, arguing that prior art exists and asking the court for a declaratory judgment that Xiaomi's 2019 robot vacuum patent is invalid.
In August 2021, the company acquired autonomous driving company Deepmotion for $77 million.
In September 2021, the Lithuanian Ministry of National Defence recommended against purchasing or using Chinese mobile phones. It asked that the existing phones should be thrown away after the defence ministry's National Cyber Security Centre found that Xiaomi devices have built-in censorship capabilities that can be turned on remotely. Xiaomi phones sold in Europe had a built-in ability to detect and censor terms such as "Free Tibet", "Long live Taiwan independence" or "democracy movement". This capability was discovered in Xiaomi’s flagship phone Mi 10T 5G. The list of terms which could be censored by the Xiaomi phone's system apps, including the default internet browser, in September 2021 includes 449 terms in Chinese and the list was continuously updated.