Xiaomi loses Hugo Barra; what will happen to its smartphones now?

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Updated: January 23, 2017 5:30:09 PM

Hugo Barra made headlines in the tech market when he came to China in the year 2013, mainly because he then held a very senior position in Google's Android. When he came to Xiaomi, it was a healthy growing startup but devoid of any great records to boast of.

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Hugo Barra made headlines in the tech market when he came to China in the year 2013, mainly because he then held a very senior position in Google’s Android. When he came to Xiaomi, it was a healthy growing startup but devoid of any great records to boast of. This move made people, especially in the smartphone market, sit up and take notice. He, in a way, revealed the importance of China in the world smartphone market, predominantly because of its local manufacturers. When he joined the company, Xiaomi made its foray into the world outside China, with its smartphone business. In doing that, Xiaomi made the right choice by hiring the VP of products at Android, who other than Hugo Barra.

Following his joining, in the year 2014, Barra rolled out the Redmi and Mi3 phones in Singapore. Xiaomi, under him, expanded into two dozen other countries, in Europe, Asia and Mexico, but the biggest of them was India, which turned out to be extremely profitable for the firm. Under Barra, Xiaomi clocked $1 billion in annual revenue, in the country for the first time. He made Xiaomi as a serious competitor in the highly saturated market of smartphones, ever since he joined the company. He also witnessed the company launching many other devices and products which made Xiaomi one of the pioneers of technology ecosystems, which includes home appliances like purifiers, routers, lights TVs among others.

Also read | Hugo Barra quits: From Google to Xiaomi; here’s the journey of a Silicon Valley star

Barra, who announced the news of his resignation through a Facebook post, was a veteran in Silicon Valley, before joining Xiaomi in 2013, from a very high position in Google. Now, as he says, ‘…it’s time to go back.’ As Barra is leaving Xiaomi, it will never be the same company, especially because he was a prominent face in the west. He was considered and effective leader who impresses one and all with his enthusiasm. Barra was an interesting tech leader. He knew how to take risks, an example of which is, launching smartphones online in India, a country where people still preferred to go to physical shops. The made such drastic and dramatic decisions in many parts fo the world.

Also read | Xiaomi’s Hugo Barra quits, goes back to Silicon Valley; find out why

While Barra might have cited homesickness as the reason to leave the company, but is that why he is going back? Xiaomi, which was the world’s most valuable startup for a short while, with a valuation of $45 billion. It was deemed as a company which could be China’s answer to Apple. It grew from being called a cheap Apple copy, to gaining worldwide respect. But after reaching number two in China, slow growth of the company then took Xiaomi out from even the top five in China. But Barra still believes that he’s leaving the company ‘in a very good place on its global expansion path’. But as it looks right now, only Barra could provide the energy that the company needs.

Meanwhile, Xiang Wang, the company’s senior Vice President will be heading the global efforts now. This comes as a challenging time for Xiaomi, especially with other companies like Oppo, Huawei and Vivo starting to make a mark in the global market. Xiang, who was earlier in Qualcomm, is a great leader himself, but with a different style, it remains to be seen how he takes Xiaomi a formidable force in the time to come.

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