Xiaomi Plans to Sell 2 Million Phones on Singles' Day in China

Xiaomi's Hugo Barra on Mobile Market in India, Brazil
  • China's biggest annual online shopping event starts Wednesday
  • Xiaomi sees itself as a services provider rather than hardware

Xiaomi Corp. is gearing up to sell as many as 2 million smartphones Wednesday as the company looks to China’s version of Cyber Monday to reignite growth.

“Singles’ Day, or 11-11 as we like to call it here, is one of the biggest days of the year for e-commerce in China,” Hugo Barra, Xiaomi’s vice president of global operations, told Bloomberg TV at the company’s Beijing headquarters Tuesday. “Of course we have to be ready for this. So we’ve prepared about 2 million smartphones so that we can sell them in one single day.”

The annual Nov. 11 promotion has morphed into China’s single biggest shopping event, accounting for a significant portion of revenue for the country’s merchants in much the same fashion as America’s Cyber Monday after Thanksgiving. Singles’ Day this year is expected to defy an economic slowdown and eclipse the record 57.1 billion yuan ($9 billion) spent in 24 hours in 2014.

Xiaomi is prepping for a strong turnout. One of the world’s most valuable technology startups with a $45 billion valuation as of last year, it rose up the ranks of the global smartphone market with an online sales model and low-priced, high-performance phones that challenged Samsung Electronics Co. Stiffer competition however pushed its shipments lower last quarter, when it ceded top place in China’s smartphone market to Huawei Technologies Co. Co-founder Lei Jun originally targeted sales of 100 million phones this year before trimming that forecast to 80 million, up from more than 60 million last year.

While hardware such as smartphones and TVs make up most of its business, Xiaomi sees itself as a company offering services such as cloud computing and games.

“I always cringe when someone compares us with other smartphone brands, because we’re an Internet company, we’re an e-commerce company,” Barra said. “We care about engaged users, we care about users who are consuming our services much more than we care about someone buying one of our phones.”

— With assistance by Tim Culpan, and Emily Chang

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