On the evening of August 14th, Lei Jun delivered a four-hour speech to an audience of 3500 people at the Beijing National Convention Center. The speech was about his personal growth and the development of Xiaomi, followed by Xiaomi‘s annual product launch event.
As the core part of the press conference, Xiaomi has updated one of its most important flagship products of the year, the foldable screen flagship Xiaomi MIX Fold 3, with a starting price of 8,999 yuan.
This foldable screen smartphone has a thickness of 5.26mm on one side and a folding thickness of 10.86mm. The Xiaomi Dragonbone hinge is its biggest highlight, which helps release 17% of the hinge area space while reducing the thickness of the unfolded and folded states by 8.6% and 12.5%, respectively. “Lightweight” is precisely the differentiated strategy that Xiaomi has adopted in the foldable screen smartphone race.
In addition, Xiaomi has also released two new smartphones, the Redmi K60 Supreme Edition, as well as the large-sized tablet Xiaomi Pad 6 Max 14, Xiaomi Mi Band 8 Pro, and the all-new biomimetic quadruped robot CyberDog2.
As Xiaomi‘s exploration of cutting-edge technology products, CyberDog2 is smaller in size compared to the previous generation, resembling the size of a Doberman Pinscher. In terms of technology, CyberDog2 is equipped with Xiaomi‘s self-developed CyberGear micro motor and features an AI-integrated perception and decision-making system. It has a total of 19 sensors, enhancing its auditory and visual perception capabilities.
Lei Jun also mentioned that the previous generation of products “suffered losses”, so the price of the new generation bionic quadruped robot has reached 12,999 yuan. However, qualification verification is also required for purchasing application channels.
A manifestation of the cyber spirit is that Lei Jun stated that CyberDog2 has been maximally open-sourced, from its code to its structural blueprints, and provides modular processing with graphical programming and various sensing capabilities. ‘We look forward to more friends joining us in promoting the development of the robotics industry together with Xiaomi,’ he said.
In fact, Lei Jun spent a considerable amount of time in his speech reviewing Xiaomi‘s growth, and the topic he couldn’t avoid was the battle for high-end positioning. He candidly admitted, “The past three years of exploring the high-end market have been the most painful and yet most rewarding experience I’ve had in nearly a decade.”
There used to be a huge disagreement within Xiaomi regarding whether or not to enter the high-end market and how to approach it. In February 2022, on the first working day after the Chinese New Year, Lei Jun convened the largest strategic discussion meeting in the company’s history. He convinced everyone present with two points: firstly, Xiaomi‘s entrepreneurial dream is to become a globally renowned technology brand; secondly, in the fiercely competitive consumer electronics industry, only by entering the high-end market can they push themselves to seek technological breakthroughs and secure future survival and development opportunities.
“Finally, everyone has reached a consensus that high-end is the only way for our development, and it is also a matter of life and death. There can be no wavering; we must fight to the end.” After this, Xiaomi gradually emerged from the slump of its first two series with new products such as the Xiaomi 13 series.
Until today, Xiaomi still adheres to the investment values that align with its high-end strategy. During the press conference, Lei Jun officially announced the strategic upgrade of Xiaomi Technology and unveiled Xiaomi‘s technological philosophy: selecting technology fields that have long-term value for human civilization and persisting in long-term continuous investment.
Xiaomi formed its first visual AI team in 2016. Over the course of 7 years and through 6 expansions, Xiaomi‘s artificial intelligence team has grown to over 3,000 people. They have gradually established capabilities in visual, speech, acoustics, knowledge graph, NLP (Natural Language Processing), machine learning, multimodal, and other AI technologies.
The big model is the recent technology direction that Xiaomi can discuss. In April of this year, Xiaomi officially formed an AI big model team. Lei Jun stated that the main breakthrough direction of Xiaomi‘s big model technology is lightweight and local deployment. As the latest achievement, he announced that Xiaomi has successfully run a large-scale model (with 1.3 billion parameters) on mobile devices and will simultaneously push an upgraded version of the Xiao Ai voice assistant with a large-scale model. It is reported that the large-scale model on Xiaomi mobile devices achieves similar effects to cloud-based models with 6 billion parameters in certain scenarios.
At present, Xiaomi‘s Technology Research Bureau has entered 12 technology fields, including 5G mobile communication technology, big data, cloud computing, and artificial intelligence. As of March 31st this year, Xiaomi‘s global authorized patent count has exceeded 32,000. According to the ranking of global patent families with effective declarations of essential patents for 5G standards released by the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT), Xiaomi‘s patent family accounts for 4.1%, entering the top ten globally for the first time.
In terms of research and development investment, Xiaomi‘s annual compound growth rate in R&D investment over the past six years has reached 38.4%. It is expected that Xiaomi‘s total R&D investment for the full year of 2023 will exceed CNY 20 billion, and its R&D investment in the next five years will exceed CNY 100 billion.
Outside of the company, Lei Jun also inevitably looks back on his four years at his alma mater, Wuhan University, in the context of growth. In 1987, a book called “Fire in Silicon Valley” ignited a flame in his heart at the library of Wuhan University. This is the initial scene that Lei Jun recalls as the starting point for his desire to start a great company.
“But as a freshman, a young person from a small county town with nothing,” Lei Jun said, “it’s not easy to start a great company.” After that, he decided to first “study well”. The first goal he came up with was to complete all the credits for four years of college within two years.
In the next hour of memories, college student Lei Jun has already demonstrated the basic qualities that an entrepreneur should possess. When he didn’t know how to choose courses, he went door-to-door in the dormitory seeking advice from fellow students and seniors from his hometown. When computer resources were scarce, he would wait outside the computer room every day, seizing any opportunity to test his coding skills on a computer. When he wanted to try entrepreneurship, he collaborated with an older student who had already entered society and had certain resources. They worked day and night to develop rare encryption software that gained some recognition within their industry and earned Lei Jun his first pot of gold.
Behind this is a clear goal decomposition and extreme diligence. With each subsequent experience, he seemed to grasp something new, and even today, these qualities continue to influence the world’s top 500 companies that he leads.
Although not mentioned in the speech, it seems that the outside world is aware of Lei Jun’s biggest challenge at the moment, which is the battle for honor in his entrepreneurial life. All those things he currently restrains and endures will be publicly reviewed in the near future, by 2024.
However, the atmosphere of waiting doesn’t seem to be so tense. Lei Jun also said, “Fortunately for me, I really take dreams seriously.”