Xiaomi to invest up to $1 billion in startups over the next five years to build an India-centric product portfolio

The Xiaomi CEO promised around 200 new products for India in the years to come, coupled with the backing of an R&D centre with the Indian market in focus.

Update: The original headline erroneously indicated that Xiaomi was investing $ 100 bn in India. The actual figure is $1 bn. The headline has been updated to reflect the same.

Within the last week, Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi has made the news for a number of reasons.

According to data collected by the International Data Corporation (IDC), Xiaomi was found to be sharing the top spot with Samsung in the Indian smartphone industry with 23.5 percent market share.

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Lei Jun, founder and CEO of China's mobile company Xiaomi. Image: Reuters

In a bid to further strengthen its hold in India, Xiaomi's CEO Lei Jun who recently visited India told The Mint in an interview that the company is looking to invest approximately $1 billion in as many as a 100 startups across the country. While the goal is to have this done over a period of five years, the founder of Xiaomi went on to state that the Indian market is of greater priority for the company than China.

The statement comes with a promise of around 200 new products for India in the years to come, coupled with the backing of an R&D centre with the Indian market in focus. Lei Jun stated in the interview that the company plans on introducing products which are not necessarily smartphones. "The next thing that we are to do is that forget ourselves being Number 1. We are a start-up. We need to build the coolest products and offer them at a very honest and reasonable price," the founder said in the interview.

Jun said that their current portfolio of products in India is limited to just about 20 products, while it is around the 200 mark in the Chinese market. He reasoned that this is because the Indian market requires a different, more patient and focused approach to make sure that each product launched is a success.

Speaking in the same context, the CEO said, "Most of these products that we are talking about were initially designed for the Chinese environment. We cannot just simply bring them over from China. We first need to understand the user’s needs and likings. We would also require a few team members to move over to India to build India-specific products, maybe products that we won’t sell in China."

Referring to the boom in 4G connectivity adoption in India, Jun added that Xiaomi would want to celebrate the 4G revolution in the country, helping essentially to build an information highway. Bringing the Chinese internet evolution process into context, Jun said, "The Chinese went through the PC internet era before they went to the mobile internet era. Chinese internet has produced companies such as Alibaba, Baidu and Tencent. These are all now global juggernauts. So, this popularisation will definitely help the whole industry in India. In the next 5-10 years, India will produce 5-10 global internet companies."

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