Xiaomi has long been called “the Apple of the East,” and now, following a recent visit to the company’s China headquarters, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has noted that Xiaomi indeed has the potential to ultimately challenge the iPhone’s share of the U.S. smartphone market.
On Friday, Wozniak made his appearance at Xiaomi to promote the company’s smartphone brand, which has been available in China for some four years. He also promoted Tesla Motors and spoke at GeekPark 2014. However, as Tech in Asia explains, though Wozniak is usually paid for his public appearances, the Apple co-founder noted at the time that Xiaomi did not pay for his endorsement.
The publication explains:
It’s unclear how Woz got acquainted with Xiaomi, and the pairing comes off as a bit malapropos because Lei Jun has been vocally defiant of the media’s comparison between himself and Steve Jobs. Woz did most of the talking during the panel, and the only time Lei ever became visibly animated was when a reporter broached the subject that Lei’s relationship with Woz isn’t helping to kick the public perception of Lei as “China’s Jobs.”
Xiaomi’s Lei Jun reportedly said: “I’ve said on many different occasions that if I had been called the ‘Steve Jobs of China’ at 20 years old, I would have been very honored. However, as a 40-year-old, I do not want to be considered second to anyone.”
More significant, however, is Wozniak’s appraisal of Xiaomi’s smartphone brand. Tech in Asia notes that the Apple co-founder is reportedly using a Xiaomi Mi3 smartphone at present, and when asked about the smartphone, he said:
I’m playing with mine. I like it so far. I’ll tell you if I have problems. Xiaomi has excellent products. They’re good enough to break the American market.
Xiaomi presently serves the Greater China area, but recent reports have indicated that the company is looking to break into international markets soon. As of October 2013, Xiaomi’s handsets constituted the fifth most-used smartphone in China, which itself is the world’s largest smartphone market.
It’ll definitely be interesting to see whether Xiaomi chooses to take on the U.S. smartphone market, and if so, whether Wozniak’s prediction holds true. When asked about Xiaomi’s similarities with Apple, however, it’s worth adding that the co-founder didn’t say much: “Xiaomi is in a very different age. It’s hard to compare apples to apples,” he laughed.
We’ll keep you updated with further information as we receive it.
In the meantime, see: CES 2014: Could ZTE’s Modular Handset Be The Future Of The Smartphone?, Cydia Tweak: WinterBoard Gets Updated For iOS 7, ARM64-iDevices, and Apple’s Mac Pro Goes Back On Sale In Europe Following Previous Ban.