Xiaomi is one of the hottest smartphone companies in the world today. Just 5 years old, it has rapidly grown to become the most valuable tech startup on earth, worth around $US46 billion (£30.9 billion), which is more than Uber, Snapchat, or SpaceX.
Xiaomi, founded by CEO Lei Ju, is often referred to as the “Apple of China,” not least because of the famed devotion of its fans. The company holds worldwide holds flash sales for its customers and throws them parties in expensive nightclubs — and they love the company for it.
But Xiaomi is like Apple another way. Many of its products have an awfully similar look to the Cupertino company’s own models, prompting Apple design chief Jony Ive to accuse the Chinese company of copying its designs.
“I don’t see it as flattery,” Ive told an audience last year. “I see it as theft. I have to be honest. The last thing I think is ‘Oh, that is flattering…’ I think it’s theft and it’s lazy. I don’t think it’s OK at all.”
But is Ive’s accusation fair?