2016年8月10日 星期三

Xiaomi stumbling after branding missteps 雷軍 A bluffer's guide to Xiaomi:中國初創神話破裂,李書福., 周有光



Xiaomi has lost its shine. A shift to cheaper models has tarnished the air of exclusivity.


GUANGZHOU -- Xiaomi, once a leading contender in the global smartphone market, has begun to lose its shine as a shift toward cheaper products…
S.NIKKEI.COM

曾經意氣風發的小米,現在恐怕得傷腦筋了!小米科技2015年手機銷量比預設低標少了1000萬支,今年力求成長不衰退...

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小米過去一直被投資者捧為中國初創神話,估值高達450億美元。不過據彭博引述消息報道,小米今年很可能未能完成年銷售8000萬部智能電話的目標。供應商內部亦已將來自小米之收入貢獻目標下調。根據市場調研公司Canalys數據,小米出貨量第三季同比下滑8%,為該公司歷史上首次。

投行Sanford C Bernstein分析師接受彭博訪問時指出,過去市場對小米故事受落,主要由於公司銷售策略與蘋果相似,加上增長快速。不過隨著公司未能達到預期目標,增長不再快速,同時公司亦不如蘋果,此表示小米根本不可能再支持到450億美元的高估值。

報道引述供應商消息指,小米過去未曾向供應商提供具體出貨目標,只提供實時訂購數據。供應商本身亦已準備將原本予小米的產能減少。

按照去年120億美元的估值計算,小米上一輪融資估值的市銷率(估值/收入)為3.75倍,超過了蘋果目前2.9倍的市銷率。

From Espresso: Lei Jun, the chief executive of Xiaomi, a fast-growing Chinese smartphone-maker, unveils his firm’s latest handsets today, prompting the usual comparisons with Apple. Steve Jobs-style jeans and and black top? Check. Minimalist black stage? Check. Crowd of adoring fans? Check. Cryptic invitation to build online buzz? Check. In truth, though, Xiaomi’s model is much closer to Amazon’s: sell hardware at low margins and then make money from services and downloads. This works well in China, not least because Google’s services have been blocked by the government, leaving the field clear for domestic firms. But things are harder abroad: in India, its most promising foreign market, Xiaomi faces patent disputes and increasingly capable local rivals. Of the 61m handsets Xiaomi sold last year, only 1m were in India. A new partnership with Bharti Airtel, India’s biggest mobile operator, will help. But building its brand and distribution outside China will be a slog http://econ.st/1545i48



Xiaomi: A bluffer's guide to 'China's Apple'


XiaomiXiaomi makes its own phones and wearables, as well as the Mi user interface that runs on top of Android

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It is known as "China's Apple", not least because of the perceived similarities between some of its devices and the iPhone.
In fact, some have accused Xiaomi, which currently operates only in Asia, of blatant copying - a charge it has denied.
And analysts predict legal challenges as it seeks to move into new markets in the West.
"Ericsson [temporarily] blocked the sales of the Xiaomi handsets in India for patent infringement, and Apple has publicly accused Xiaomi of stealing some of its designs," said Ronan de Renesse, lead analyst in consumer technology at Ovum.

Xiaomi's self-reported phone sales

  • 2014: more than 60 million
  • 2013: fewer than 20 million
But, as Xiaomi prepares to unleash its latest smartphone this week, the company will be hoping comparisons to Apple become altogether more flattering.
It may be less well-known in the West, but it recently leaped into third position in the global smartphone market.
XiaomiIn September 2013, chief executive Lei Jun told the BBC Xiaomi would be entering Western markets within "one or two years"
And, in December last year, Xiaomi, launched in 2010, was valued at $45bn (£29.8bn), making it the world's most valuable technology start-up.

Start Quote

We're not just some cheap Chinese company making a cheap phone.”
Lei JunXiaomi chief executive
Moreover, in what was a major coup, it hired former senior Google executive Hugo Barra to lead its expansion.
At the launch of its Mi 4 phone last year, of which Xiaomi later claimed to have sold more than a million handsets in a 24-hour period, its chief executive Lei Jun admitted approaching the same manufacturers that produced the parts for Apple's iPhone.
The devices he has produced are relatively low-cost - often half the price of the competition - with thin profit margins. They are sold only online, lowering Xiaomi's overheads. And, while some have called them flimsy, other critics have praised many of the phones' features.
Last year, the firm said it had surpassed its target of selling 60 million phones, up from less than 20 million in the previous 12 months.
Xiaomi Mi 4The Android-powered Mi 4 was the firm's first mobile to have a metal frame
And, in an interview with the New York Times, Mr Lei dismissed the idea that his company was just a bargain-basement alternative, saying: "We're not just some cheap Chinese company making a cheap phone. We're going to be a Fortune 500 company."
According to Mr De Renesse, "Xiaomi represents a new generation of smartphone companies based in developing Asia".
He said that Xiaomi's focus on online sales allowed it to focus on distribution and limiting supply, "so that no devices remains unsold and inventory is gone in record time".
XiaomiXiaomi surpassed its own smartphone sales targets in 2014 and is the top manufacturer in the Chinese market
He added: "Its success can also be attributed to its excellent work at managing customer experience. It takes into account customer feedback and constantly update its devices' software and content offering accordingly.
"This helps the company build a very strong smartphone brand in its core market China, which is key to maintain customer loyalty."
Besides China, Xiaomi is operating in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore, as well Malaysia, the Philippines, India and Indonesia.
In September 2013, Mr Lei told the BBC Xiaomi would be entering Western markets within "one or two years".
XiaomiFormer Google executive Hugo Barra is tasked with expanding Xiaomi on the global stage
And there has been speculation that Xiaomi will use this week's launch to make its move on the US market.
Also in 2013 the company appointed Mr Barra, with a plan to make people talk about Xiaomi "in the same way that they talk about Google and Apple".
"There are several roadblocks to Xiaomi international expansion," said Mr De Renesse. "Smartphones are distributed differently across countries. For example, operators are key distributing partners in Europe, and Xiaomi would have to work with them if it were to launch in the UK.
"The software and services the company has developed for its phones need to be customised for each country to handle different languages and tastes in content."






小米機董事長:山寨機讓小米「很痛苦」


【李寧怡/綜合外電報導】從模仿iPhone手機起家的小米機,最近火紅熱銷,市場上充斥山寨機。董事長雷軍日前抱怨,市售小米手機有一半是山寨機,呼籲官方嚴厲打擊假冒偽劣商品。

《新 京報》報導,中國國務院總理李克強前天在中南海主持座談會,聽取經濟、社會等方面專家學者和企業界人士的建議。小米科技董事長雷軍藉此機會抱怨山寨機讓小 米感到「很痛苦」。他表示,市場賣的小米手機有一半是假的,有些地方還認為山寨手機創造了GDP(國內生產毛額),導致跨區域打擊難度很大。他呼籲加強市 場監管。

雷軍向記者透露,李克強對他說「聽說小米已經成了大米」,讓他印象深刻。雷軍也在會中建議把網路列入國家戰略,協助促進傳統產業轉型升級。



2013年10月08日07:35

雷軍:40歲以後頓悟的小米掌門人

在商界打拼多年的雷軍說,40歲以後創辦小米時,原來不懂、不會的事今天都會了。憑借小米手機的成功,他獲得了《華爾街日報》中文版2013“中國創新人物獎”科技類獎

年9月中國智能手機生產商小米公司(Xiaomi Inc.)舉辦的新款手機發布會上,現場一片喧囂,而當小米創始人雷軍公布最新款手機的價格時,手拿發光棒、身穿小米T恤衫的粉絲們更是發出了震耳欲聾的喊聲。


雷軍談中國的創新環境及小米的發展
小米公司創始人雷軍在獲得《華爾街日報》中文版2013“創新人物獎”提名時接受採訪,談論了他認為中國在移動互聯網領域有希望實現超越的幾個原因,小米為何能引起轟動,以及他創辦小米的初衷。他說,他希望像喬布斯一樣辦一家世界一流的公司。小米Mi3手機價格為人民幣1,999元(合326美元),相當於蘋果公司(Apple Inc.)新款低價手機iPhone 5C的近一半。其價格也同樣低於三星電子(Samsung Electronics Co.)等手機巨頭生產的具備類似功能的手機。

這 樣的定價幫助推動了小米在全球最大的智能手機市場中國的飛速增長。據研究公司Canalys說,雷軍創立小米以來的三年裡,截至2013年第二季度,這家 公司已奪取了中國智能手機市場5%的份額。據該公司說,它今年計劃銷售2,000萬部手機,去年銷售量約為700萬部。

43歲的雷軍在接受《華爾街日報》採訪時說,我們用互聯網思想來做。在互聯網上,最好用的、最常用的一些東西幾乎都是免費的。Email是免費的,絕大部分內容和信息是免費的。

他還說,免費的商業模式可以最快地獲取用戶。所以我們定了一個原則,用接近原材料的成本價格定價。

據 小米說,按最近一輪融資情況衡量,該公司價值100億美元。該公司說,它去年實現收入人民幣126.5億元(合20.7億美元)。在中共中央政治局上周一 次以科技為主題的集體學習活動中,雷軍等科技公司高管受邀參加了國家主席習近平出席的一個會議,小米的知名度隨之得到進一步的提升。

小米通常不披露其盈利情況或其他重要財務數據。一些分析人士說,該公司硬件銷售的微薄利潤率和中國市場的激烈價格競爭可能使其未來幾年難以實現巨額利潤。

研究公司國際數據公司(IDC)的智能手機分析師黃德俊(TZ Wong)說,為在市場中獲得更多的信譽來証明自己的估值,他們需要開始考慮向鄰近的硬件市場和軟件擴張。

黃德俊說,他們說將自己視為一家互聯網公司,因此服務對他們來說是一條前進之路。

雷 軍說,小米是通過軟件提供手機應用程序和電影等服務賺錢的。小米的軟件基於谷歌(Google Inc.)的安卓(Android)移動操作系統。小米將其網站作為主要銷售平台,該公司還提供各種配件,從彩色電池和手機外殼到帽子,甚至是小米的卡通 形象米兔的玩偶。截止2013年底的兩年時間內,僅米兔玩偶預計就將賣出68萬個,每個米兔的價格從人民幣19元到149元不等。

雷軍說,可能有1,000萬到2,000萬人買了我們的手機,其中有50萬人買了我們的米兔。他說購買米兔可以說是粉絲們對小米的一種捐助。


Stefen Chow for the Wall Street Journal
科技類獲獎人:雷軍
小米的用戶忠誠度一定程度上是這樣建立起來的:該公司根據用戶的意見和建議不斷對小米版的安卓操作系統進行改進,並每周都對其進行升級。雷軍說,小米採納用戶的意見和建議後會通知用戶。

他說,“你跟我提了一個意見,我馬上就改了,你有非常強的成就感。當你知道我的確改了以後,你有很強的擁有感,然後呢,你會跟你的同學、朋友、同事、每個人去推薦說,哇,這個小米就是好。”

小 米的品牌知名度從中國最富裕的城市延伸至規模較小的地區性中心城市,在這些地區,引領潮流的年輕人往往選擇小米手機。馬濤(音)在中國北部城市石家莊某電 子產品商場二樓的一個櫃台銷售小米手機和其他牌子的手機,他說,小米是購買國產手機的顧客的首選,銷量略高於華為技術有限公司(Huawei Technologies Co.)的產品。

他說,由於小米最初是在網上銷售的,他根本沒想到小米手機在線下會有這麼好的表現。

雷軍還從蘋果公司創始人喬布斯(Steve Jobs)眾所周知的經歷中得到了借鑒。在主持小米的高調新品發布會時,他常常像喬布斯一樣身著黑色運動衫。他說,自己最初是從一本叫《矽谷之火》的書中了解喬布斯的,這本書講述了20世紀80年代個人電腦行業的崛起過程。

雷軍說,他並不想成為“雷布斯”,只是希望學習喬布斯的創新。構成小米業務模式的“互聯網思維”一定程度上根植於雷軍在金山軟件有限公司 (Kingsoft Co.) 16年的職業生涯。金山是中國軟件行業最早取得成功的企業之一。雷軍說,金山的業務方向很多,從辦公軟件到安全軟件再到網絡遊戲,基本上打了一個遍,滿足 了他嘗試新事物的願望。

雷軍在金山工作期間,該公司創辦了卓越網(Joyo.com),這家網站最終在2004年被尋求在華擴張的亞馬遜公司(Amazon.com Inc.)收購。離開金山之後,雷軍在中國進行了一系列投資,但三年前他有了創業的想法。

他說,“在40歲的時候,突然想明白得做點事情,覺得人生應該再去試一下。原來很年輕,不懂事,不會幹,今天什麼都會了。”

小米的估值為100億美元,已經超過了諾基亞公司(Nokia Corp.)和黑莓(BlackBerry Ltd.)分別達成被收購交易時的估值。8月份,小米吸引到原谷歌安卓業務高管巴拉(Hugo Barra)前來加盟,他將負責開拓國際業務及推進與谷歌的合作。

這一高管變動讓外界猜測小米計劃進行國際擴張,但雷軍對公司的計劃一直閉口不談。不過他說,與全球對手相比,小米的產品是具有競爭力的。

他說,“我真的堅信我們已經在很多方面超過它們(蘋果公司和三星公司)了,就是我們有一部分不如它們,有一部分超過它們,大概就是這種感覺。”他並未作出詳細說明,但表示,三年以後,小米手機在質量方面會完全超越國際競爭對手的產品。

雷軍說,未來五年小米沒有上市計劃。盡管他的模式在中國取得巨大成功,但他還不確定這一模式是否對於普通投資者也具有吸引力。

他說,我不認為小米需要這樣的一個市場來決定我做得好還是不好,我需要按自己的節奏做好。

Paul Mozur

(更正並致歉:原文中有關“2012年和2013年賣出米兔玩偶68萬個”的說法有誤,應為“截止2013年底的兩年時間內,僅米兔玩偶預計就將賣出68萬個”。特此更正並向讀者致歉。)

 

 "汉语拼音之父"的遗憾

德国新闻周刊《明镜》2月3日一期发表文章,介绍了中国现代汉语拼音发明者、现年108岁的 周有光。上世纪50年代,周有光受命完成三项任务:建立规范化语言标准、简化字体和研发字母标音方案。
"周有光接受任务时已经快50岁了。不过与毛泽东不同的是,周有光曾见识过大千世界:1960年,作为中华帝国一个富裕家庭子弟,他在上海和日本学习经济和语言学,后来成为一名银行家。1946年他前往纽约为新华银行工作。
在1949年人民共和国建立前不久,他回来了。'与当时大多数知识分子一样,我支持共产党',他表示。'毕竟他们答应我们,要建立民主。'"
周有光此后在上海教授经济学,并写了一本书,介绍字母体系在学习语言方面的优势。这本书引起了毛泽东的兴趣,当时中国有80%的人是文盲。
如何用字母体系来代表字形复杂、四个声调而且又有很多同音字的汉字?这个问题曾让许多学者大伤脑筋。在使用何种字母的问题上也曾有过争执。在"留美派"周有光的坚持下,拉丁字母压倒了"社会主义兄弟国家"苏联的西里尔字母,这也让西方人学习中文更为容易。
China Linguist Zhou Youguang 周有光:“共产党没有遵守承诺,中国始终没有民主。”

周有光发明的拼音系统不但提高了中国人的识字率,也让信息时代的人们在电脑手机上输入中文成为可能。尽管如此,中国政府对他却有所怀疑,少有褒奖,这一切 都与周有光的政治立场有关。"‘我一生中只对一件事情感到遗憾,’他表示。'共产党没有遵守承诺,中国始终没有民主。'正如大部分知识分子一样,周有光在 60年代文革期间曾被下放农村。
"他赞赏国家迄今为止所取得的进步,周有光表示。但是中国仍远未达到应有的强大和有教养的程度。'错误在此前的年代就已经铸成。现在我已经老到可以说出真话了:毛泽东搞得一塌糊涂。'"

摘编:石涛
责编:乐然

 

李書福押重注推動沃爾沃復興


18億美元買下沃爾沃(Volvo)汽車品牌三年後﹐中國汽車業先驅李書福押下重注﹐他要通過主打中國市場的方式讓這個瑞典汽車生產商恢復生機。

沃爾沃汽車公司(Volvo Car Corp.)週三在成都展示了其新工廠﹐這是讓中國成為該品牌生存關鍵要素的部分計劃。有高管說﹐未來中國本土生產的沃爾沃佔該品牌在中國內地銷量的比例應該能增加到75%﹐現在這一比例僅為15%。

沃 爾沃的這個新工廠年產量將達到12萬輛﹐最初將生產S60L轎車﹐今年底量產﹐全部投產後最終雇員將在2,500人左右。2010年﹐李書福的浙江吉利控 股集團(Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co.)從福特汽車公司(Ford Motor Co.)手裡買下了沃爾沃。

儘管如此﹐沃爾沃仍在奮起直追。大眾汽車(Volkswagen AG)旗下的豪華品牌奧迪(Audi)和寶馬汽車公司(BMW AG)在中國市場上銷售的大多數汽車都產自中國﹐這樣可免除25%的進口稅﹐降低運輸成本﹐並且可對需求變化做出更加迅速的反應。

沃爾沃計劃今年在中國推出六款新車型。沃爾沃總裁兼首席執行長薩穆埃爾松(Hakan Samuelsson)承諾﹐沃爾沃新車將躍上一個空前的台階。

沃爾沃眼下的目標是到2020年實現在華銷量20萬輛﹐全球銷量80萬輛。相比幾年前的雄心壯志﹐這個2020年的目標似乎後退了一步。薩穆埃爾松曾說﹐到2015年左右在華銷量要達到20萬輛。


Reuters
吉利集團董事長李書福在中國的一家新沃爾沃組裝廠裡。沃爾沃在中國的豪車品牌中排名第五。
他 說這番話之後﹐沃爾沃便開始走下坡路。2012年﹐沃爾沃全球銷量同比下降6.1%﹐售出了大約42.2萬輛轎車和運動型多功能(SUV)車。雖然沃爾沃 說更願意著眼於運營利潤﹐但該公司現在並不盈利。2012年﹐沃爾沃的運營利潤為1,800萬瑞典克朗(合270萬美元)。

在遭受衰退重 創的歐洲﹐疲弱的銷售給沃爾沃帶來了沖擊。歐洲是該公司的關鍵市場﹐佔沃爾沃全球銷量的比重超過一半。此外﹐沃爾沃在銷售復蘇的美國也失掉了部分市場。今 年年初至5月31日﹐沃爾沃在美國的銷量下降了近6%﹐至2.59萬輛﹐遠落後於豪車領導者梅賽德斯-奔馳(Mercedes-Benz)、寶馬和雷克薩 斯(Lexus)。

沃爾沃在美國推出更小、更節能轎車和SUV的步伐一直很緩慢。薩穆埃爾松說﹐今年年底將使用的更節能的新型發動機應該有助於讓沃爾沃在美銷量恢復至每年100,000輛。衰退前沃爾沃的年銷量就是這個水平。

中國有望成為全球最大的豪華車市場。今年前五個月﹐沃爾沃在華銷量同比上升27%﹐至22,905輛。不過﹐沃爾沃在中國豪華車市場中仍排在第五位。

沃 爾沃需要“俘獲”像Allan Song這樣的車主。40歲的Allan Song是北京一家跨國公司的總經理﹐他喜歡沃爾沃XC60 SUV以及該品牌的安全口碑。但他開的是奧迪A6。他說:我聽說過沃爾沃汽車很安全﹐但這只是一個概念﹐我沒有任何實際的體驗。沃爾沃從來沒有聯繫過我試 駕。

沃爾沃成都一家經銷商的總經理Michael Xu說﹐該品牌需要提供更多的車型供客戶選擇﹐特別是定價在人民幣100萬元以上的高檔車型。

他說﹐這類車型將可幫助打造沃爾沃的品牌形象。他們店裡銷售的最貴的沃爾沃汽車價格在人民幣700,000元(合113,000美元)。在截至今年5月的五個月中﹐他們店銷售了400輛沃爾沃汽車﹐較去年同比增加63%。

若想在銷量排行榜上提升名次﹐則需要投入資金研發新的車型。李書福暗示說﹐他可能籌借所需的部分資金。

他沒有透露詳細情況。沃爾沃高管們說﹐只要該公司能夠顯示有望實現目標﹐很多人表示有興趣參與該公司的融資。

薩穆埃爾松說﹐沃爾沃每年斥資約70億瑞典克朗用於研發。他曾任卡車生產商MAN SE的首席執行長﹐去年秋季出任沃爾沃首席執行長。之前沃爾沃公佈2012年上半年虧損後﹐董事會解除了當時的首席執行長雅各比(Stefan Jacoby)的職務。

沃 爾沃最近敲定了三筆重要的融資交易﹐包括一筆與中國國家開發銀行(China Development Bank)規模9.22億歐元(合12.1億美元)的再融資交易﹐一筆與瑞典出口信貸公司(Swedish Export Credit Corp.)規模10億瑞典克朗的信貸安排﹐以及多家銀行提供的更多融資。

李書福說﹐沃爾沃汽車正處於一個需要關注利潤的階段﹐但同時需要進行投資。我們需要與金融機構合作﹐以便能夠走向未來。

COLUM MURPHY / JOHN D. STOLL
*****

小米科技雷軍站在颱風口

小米手機,出自喬布斯的中國粉絲

模仿喬布斯的小米公司CEO雷軍,去年夏天在北京推出一款新智能手機。
Jason Lee/Reuters
模仿喬布斯的小米公司CEO雷軍,去年夏天在北京推出一款新智能手機。

北京——中國的仿冒產品臭名昭著。不過現在,代表美國才智的一個神一樣的人物,史蒂芬·P·喬布斯(Steven P. Jobs)也有了仿冒者。
很多像iPhone這樣的產品是在中國生產的,但極少有哪一個是在中國發明的。在這裡,雷軍作為一個企業家、億萬富翁,直言不諱地表示自己崇拜喬布斯,現在他把自己和他的公司比作喬布斯的繼承人。中國媒體給他的公司小米,取了一個「東方蘋果」的綽號。
  • 檢視大圖 今年4月推出的小米2A手機。
    Xiaomi
    今年4月推出的小米2A手機。
  • 檢視大圖 去年8月,雷軍發佈小米2智能手機,這款手機很快就銷售一空。
    Jason Lee/Reuters
    去年8月,雷軍發佈小米2智能手機,這款手機很快就銷售一空。
  • 檢視大圖 2010年,喬布斯發佈iPhone 4。
    Ryan Anson/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
    2010年,喬布斯發佈iPhone 4。
這個稱號無論從哪一方面看都有些牽強,不過雷軍還是在精心塑造着喬布斯式的形象,一直到牛仔褲和深色T恤衫,他也在出售數百萬台酷似iPhone的手機。中國消費者,以及資金雄厚的海外投資者,似乎都是他的信徒。
然而雷軍最大信徒,或許是他自己。他大步走上講台,介紹新款手機。他還會宣稱一些很多人聽來會顯得怪異的事情。例如:
「我們是在像做PC一樣做手機,這可是一個全新的想法,」小米公司的首席執行官(CEO)雷軍,在該公司空間寬敞的總部大廈接受採訪時說。「我們在做其他公司過去都沒有做過的事。」
在蘋果公司(Apple)和三星電子(Samsung Electronics)這兩家智能手機巨頭聽來,這種說法或許令人吃驚。但小米去年的確在中國售出了價值20億美元的手機,在這個世界最大的手機市場,它正在崛起為一支重要的力量,該公司預期今年的利潤還會翻一番。
雷軍本人絕不介意被人比作蘋果和喬布斯。為什麼要介意呢?三年前一群中國工程師成立了這家公司,而去年雷軍的公司售出了700萬台手機。小米運用了效仿iPhone的外觀和體驗的設計,也似乎直接照搬了蘋果的營銷方式。
企業家立志打造中國的蘋果這一點並不奇怪,許多人都在談論讓中國走出為其他公司組裝設備的死胡同。
然而迄今為止,真正的創新還少之又少,充其量只是對別人的技術進行改造,移植到中國市場。
雷軍吸引信徒的原因是,在中國沒有哪一家公司能比小米更快地達到年收入10億美元,連亞馬遜(Amazon)都花了五年才達到這一步。小米不僅做到了這一點,而且還實現了盈利。
小米的投資者包括啟明創投(Qiming Venture Partners)、高通(Qualcomm)的風險投資部門,以及尤里·米爾納(Yuri Milner)經營的數碼天空科技公司(Digital Sky Technologies),後者也是Facebook、Groupon和Zynga的早期投資人。
小米公司現在仍由私人持有,該公司表示,距離首次公開發行(IPO)仍有數年之久,不過按去年6月的最近一輪融資估算,該公司的價值已經達到40億美元。
如果這個估值是正確的,那麼小米就會成為中國最有價值的科技企業之一,位列阿里巴巴、百度、騰訊和網易之後。
小米迎合了那些想要智能手機,但又不太買得起的受過大學教育的年輕人。比如像路達(音譯),他今年26歲,是上海的一名教育諮詢師。
他說,「我選擇小米是因為它性價比很高。」
持懷疑態度者稱,該公司生產的是廉價的iPhone模仿品,沒有明顯的軟件或硬件優勢。他們還說,小米麵臨着蘋果和三星的巨大挑戰,後兩家公司已經準備好推出廉價的智能手機產品了。
規模更大的本土手機製造商,如聯想(Lenovo)、華為,以及台灣的HTC所具有的市場力量亦不容小視。這些企業最近在中國智能手機市場的總份額達25%。
無論公司是否成功,它的崛起都鞏固了雷軍初創企業魔法師的名聲。他既是一名企業家,又是一名初創企業投資者。他在中國的金山軟件公司(Kingsoft)供職十多年時間,讓這家企業在2007年上市。他仍是該公司的董事長,持有3億美元股份。
他還投資了一系列成功的軟件和互聯網公司,包括YY語音。這是一個在線社交平台,去年在納斯達克(Nasdaq)上市,目前市值約15億美元。雷軍最早期的成功之一是在2004年,當時亞馬遜支付了7500萬美元來收購他的電子商務公司卓越網(Joyo.com)。
李開復(Kai-Fu Lee)曾是谷歌公司(Google)高管,現在經營着創新工場(Innovation Works),這家位於北京的公司致力於投資中國的創業公司。「雷軍是一名非凡的企業家,」李開復說。「他對用戶需求和市場很有洞察力,現在他表現出了一 種不可思議的渴望,要創造出一個家喻戶曉的科技品牌。」
雷軍對自己的個人生活並未透露太多,不過他在新浪微博(類似於中國的Twitter)上擁有近500萬名粉絲,並被人們當做科技圈中的名人。
他在中國中部的武漢附近長大,這是一座有着堅韌性格的工業城市,並在武漢大學學習計算機科學。他說,在1987年上大學期間,他讀了一本關於喬布斯的書,於是決定要效仿喬布斯。
「我深受那本書的影響,希望建立一家一流的公司,」雷軍說。「因此我制定了一個迅速從大學畢業的計劃。」
在用兩年時間完成學業後,他加入了中國的金山軟件公司。作為一名具有精明營銷技巧,且有才華的工程師,他通過努力一步步晉陞到高管級別,並在1998年被任命為CEO。
在金山軟件,他還抽時間建立了卓越網,並作為天使投資人投資了數十家其他企業。
「他很有眼光,」雷軍的一個老朋友,經營一家投資基金的劉韌說。「他總是能比別人更早地看到趨勢,並總是準備進行調整。例如,卓越網開始時只是一個下載平台,而YY開始時只是在做RSS訂閱。」
在4100萬美元的啟動資金支持下,雷軍與微軟(Microsoft)和谷歌的前工程師林斌,以及其他5名工程師在北京郊區的一間小辦公室里建立了小米。
2010年,該公司開始了研發一款基於谷歌Android系統的手機軟件平台的工作。該公司還找到了許多與蘋果合作的供應商和代工製造商,包括高通(Qualcomm)、博通(Broadcom)和富士康(Foxconn)。
在2011年8月,小米推出了首款智能手機小米1,兩天時間就銷售一空。小米2去年8月發佈,很快就銷售一空,以至於一些分析人士稱,小米故意製造短缺,通過「飢餓營銷」來產生轟動效應。
為了降低成本,該公司跳過了中間人和分銷商,通過其網站直接銷售。該公司表示,其營銷模式不僅對中國而言是創新,而且還讓小米能以iPhone或三星Galaxy手機一半的價格出售智能手機。
小米還把設計和功能在網上外包給所謂「米粉」,並在每周五發佈一個新版本的操作系統,從而增加新功能,並且保持米粉們的興奮度。
「對於一家初創企業來說,他們所獲得的成就相當令人矚目,」高德納(Gartner)分析師沈哲怡(Sandy Shen)說,「但問題是:怎樣才能突破目前瞄準的狹窄客戶群,擴大市場份額?」
中國的許多技術分析師和投資者都說,這家公司的估值是一個泡沫,而且小米很難維持其發展。
雷軍堅持稱,他的公司今年可以銷售超過1500萬部手機。和蘋果一樣,小米也在關注電視。
雷軍被《福布斯》(Forbes)列為中國最富有的企業家之一,凈值17億美元,他已經在過去十年里幫助建立了3家價值數十億美元的初創企業。因此,他給人留下自信甚至有點自大的印象也不奇怪。
「我們可不是那種製造廉價手機的廉價中國公司,」他說。「我們要成為一家財富500強企業。」
Xu Yan對本文有研究貢獻。
翻譯:王童鶴、林蒙克


 

In China, an Empire Built by Aping Apple


BEIJING — China is notorious for its knockoffs. But now comes a knockoff of one of the gods of American ingenuity: Steven P. Jobs.
In a country where products like iPhones are made but rarely invented, Lei Jun — entrepreneur, multimillionaire and professed Jobs acolyte — is positioning himself and his company as figurative heirs of Mr. Jobs. The Chinese media have nicknamed his company, Xiaomi, the “Apple of the East.”

  • The Mi-2A phones, introduced in April.
    Xiaomi
    The Mi-2A phones, introduced in April.
  • 查看大图 Lei Jun unveiled Xiaomi’s Mi-2 smartphone last August, and it sold out quickly.
    Jason Lee/Reuters
    Lei Jun unveiled Xiaomi’s Mi-2 smartphone last August, and it sold out quickly.
  • 查看大图 Steven P. Jobs introduced the iPhone 4 in 2010.
    Ryan Anson/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
    Steven P. Jobs introduced the iPhone 4 in 2010.
The title is a stretch, by almost any measure. But Mr. Lei nonetheless is carefully cultivating a Jobsian image here, right down to his jeans and dark shirts. He is also selling millions of mobile phones that look a lot like iPhones. Chinese consumers — and deep-pocketed investors overseas — seem to be believers.
And yet Mr. Lei’s biggest believer may be himself. He bounds onto podiums to introduce new cellphones. He proclaims things that may, to many, sound outlandish. For instance:
“We’re making the mobile phone like the PC, and this is a totally new idea,” Mr. Lei, Xiaomi’s chief executive, said during an interview at the company’s spacious, high-rise headquarters here. “We’re doing things other companies haven’t done before.”
That might come as a surprise to Apple and Samsung Electronics, the twin giants of smartphones. But Xiaomi (pronounced SHAO-mee) did sell $2 billion in handsets in China last year. It is emerging as a force in China, the world’s largest mobile phone market, and it expects its revenue to double this year.
Mr. Lei, for his part, hardly discourages comparisons to Apple and Mr. Jobs. And why would he? Founded by a group of Chinese engineers three years ago, his company sold seven million mobile phones last year by using designs that mimic the look and feel of the iPhone and using marketing that seems right out of Apple’s playbook.
It’s no surprise that entrepreneurs aspire to create a Chinese Apple. Many talk about moving China beyond the dead end of assembling devices for other companies.
So far, however, true innovators have been scarce. At best, they have adapted others’ technology to the Chinese market.
Mr. Lei has attracted believers because no company’s annual revenue has reached the $1 billion mark in China faster than Xiaomi, not even Amazon, which took five years to get there. Xiaomi did it while earning a profit.
Its backers include Qiming Venture Partners, the venture capital arm of Qualcomm and Digital Sky Technologies, an investment firm run by Yuri Milner, an early backer of Facebook, Groupon and Zynga.
Xiaomi, which is privately held, says an initial public offering is years away. But the company is worth $4 billion, according to its latest round of financing last June.
If that valuation holds up, it would make Xiaomi one of China’s most valuable technology companies, behind Alibaba, Baidu, Tencent and Netease.
The company caters to young, college-educated people who want a smartphone but cannot quite afford one, people like Lu Da, a 26-year-old education consultant in Shanghai.
“I chose Xiaomi because it’s good value for the money,” he said.
Skeptics say the company produces low-price iPhone imitations with no significant software or hardware advantages. They also say the company faces stiff challenges from Apple and Samsung, which are in a position to offer low-price smartphones.
The marketing power of bigger local handset makers like Lenovo, Huawei and Taiwan’s HTC, which together recently sold about 25 percent of all smartphones in China, cannot be discounted either.
Whether the company succeeds, its rise has solidified Mr. Lei’s reputation as a start-up wizard. Part entrepreneur and part start-up investor, he spent more than a decade at the Chinese software company Kingsoft and took it public in 2007. (He remains chairman and holds a $300 million stake.)
He also invested in a string of successful software and Internet companies, including YY, an online social platform that went public on the Nasdaq stock exchange in the United States last year and is now worth about $1.5 billion. One of Mr. Lei’s earliest successes came in 2004, when Amazon paid $75 million to acquire his e-commerce company Joyo.com.
“Lei Jun is a phenomenal entrepreneur,” said Kai-Fu Lee, the former Google executive who now runs Innovation Works, a Beijing-based firm that invests in Chinese start-ups. “He’s insightful about user needs and markets, and now he has this incredible desire to create a household brand in technology.”
Mr. Lei has revealed little about his personal life, but he has nearly five million followers on Sina Weibo, a sort of Chinese Twitter, and is treated like a celebrity in technology circles.
He grew up near Wuhan, a gritty industrial city in central China, and studied computer science at Wuhan University. It was during college, in 1987, he says, that he read a book about Mr. Jobs, and decided to emulate him.
“I was greatly influenced by that book, and I wanted to establish a company that was first class,” Mr. Lei said. “So I made a plan to get through college fast.”
After finishing his coursework in two years, he joined Kingsoft, a Chinese software company. A talented engineer with sharp marketing skills, he worked his way up into the executive ranks, and was named chief executive in 1998.
At Kingsoft, he also found time to set up Joyo.com and to become an angel investor in dozens of other companies.
“He has vision,” said Liu Ren, a longtime friend who runs an investment fund. “He sees trends earlier than others and is always ready to adjust. For instance, Joyo started as a downloading platform and at the beginning YY was just doing RSS subscription.”
With $41 million in initial financing, Mr. Lei teamed up with a former Microsoft and Google engineer, Bin Lin, and five other engineers to set up Xiaomi in a small office on the outskirts of Beijing.
Work began in 2010 on a software platform for the phone adapted from Google’s Android system. The company also sought out many of the same suppliers and contract manufacturers that worked with Apple, including Qualcomm, Broadcom and Foxconn.
In August 2011, Xiaomi introduced its first smartphone, the Mi-1, which sold out in two days. The Mi-2 was released last August, and sold out so quickly that some analysts claimed Xiaomi was creating artificial shortages to generate buzz through “scarcity marketing.”
To lower costs, the company cut out middlemen and distributors, selling directly through its Web site. The marketing was not just innovative for China, the company said, but allowed Xiaomi to sell smartphones for just half the price of the iPhone or Samsung Galaxy phones.
Xiaomi also outsources designs and features online from its so-called Mi-Fans, and releases a new version of the operating system every Friday, to add new features and keep the Mi-Fans excited.
“For a start-up it’s quite impressive what they’ve achieved,” Sandy Shen, an analyst at the research firm Gartner, said. “But the question is: how are they going to grow their market share beyond the narrow segment they’ve targeted?”
Many technology analysts and investors in China say that the company’s valuation is a bubble and that it will be difficult for Xiaomi to maintain its growth.
Mr. Lei insists his company could sell more than 15 million phones this year. Xiaomi — like Apple — is also looking at television.
Mr. Lei, listed by Forbes as one of China’s wealthiest entrepreneurs, worth $1.7 billion, has already helped create three multibillion-dollar start-ups in the last decade. Little wonder, then, that he comes across as confident, even a little cocky.
“We’re not just some cheap Chinese company making a cheap phone,” he said. “We’re going to be a Fortune 500 company.”
Xu Yan contributed research.
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