Xiaomi VP Hugo Barra refuted charges that his company is copying Apple’s products during an on-stage interview at the Wall Street Journal’s WSJ.D Live conference Tuesday, saying that everyone in the mobile industry is inspired by everyone else. More specifically, Barra said that Apple has been taking a lot of cues from Android recently as well. “The iPhone 6 carries design-language that is very HTC-like,” Barra said.
He added that the iOS quick settings were inspired by similar features in Android. However, Barra also called the iPhone 6 the “most beautiful phone ever built,” and said that Apple is “the world’s design mecca.” Barra also acknowledged that Xiaomi is taking some cues from other companies as well: “Our designers are inspired by great products and by great design out there,” he said.
Barra went on to say that he isn’t worried about patent litigation, and that the company’s international plans aren’t guided by attempts to avoid litigation. Xiaomi recently entered India, and Barra said that the company has been very successful there. During its most recent flash sale, the company sold 100,000 phones in just 4.2 seconds, according to Barra. Next up for Xiaomi’s international expansion are Brazil and Mexico.
Barra joined Xiaomi after leaving Google in August of 2013. His departure came a few months after Android head Andy Rubin moved on within Google and the leadership over the mobile operating system fell to Sundar Pichai. However, there also were some undertones of romance and intrigue, with reports suggesting that Barra had dated a Google employee who later had a romantic relationship with Google co-founder Sergey Brin.
Xiaomi launched its first LTE smart phone, the Mi 4, in July. At the time, the company also announced a $13 fitness band dubbed the Mi Band. Barra said Tuesday that Xiaomi sells all of its hardware at close to cost, making economies of scale work for it. But he also said that Xaiomi sees hardware sales as a means of delivering software and services. “We are an internet and a software company much more than … a hardware company,” he said.