#10 Lei Jun, CEO, Xiaomi
Xiaomi’s rise to prominence has been on the platform of affordable quality; Lei has designed phones at the premium end of the Chinese smartphone market, while keeping margins low. Much of Xiaomi’s profit is derived from software and services, particularly its MIUI platform, which draws on Lei’s background in social media to produce a vibrant user community.
This is not likely to translate well into contract-driven markets (like the US and much of Europe), as consumers regularly replace their phones, meaning any software-based revenue cannot be guaranteed beyond the 1 or 2 year contract. In addition, engaging with brands through social media is not common practice in these markets.
Outside China, and for special occasions, the company offers flash sales of its devices, relying on the hype provided in social media to promote them, rather than paid-for advertising. Xiaomi also has a growing range of other products, from a fitness wearable to a tablet and smart TVs. These follow the same online-only strategy as the phones in distribution.
While Xiaomi’s expansion in the phone market may remain checked by limited profits, these devices which rely on hardware revenue have no such restrictions. This means that Xiaomi will be a more immediate hit in non-phone consumer electronics overseas in the years to come.