Designer Philippe Starck Is Helping China’s Xiaomi Go More Upscale


China’s Xiaomi made its name with good-quality, low-priced smartphones and gadgets. But a product launch event in Beijing just made clear how the company is trying to reposition its brand as more upscale.

French designer Philippe Starck made a surprising appearance onstage in Beijing with Xiaomi founder Lei Jun; Mr. Starck helped design Xiaomi’s sleek-looking new ceramic-body phone, the 6.4-inch Mi Mix, which will be available in limited quantities. Years ago, the designer also worked on a yacht with Apple’s Steve Jobs, who died before he could sail in it. Xiaomi’s founder showed a picture of the yacht on stage before introducing Mr. Starck, whom he said might not be familiar to Chinese consumers but was “the most famous designer in the whole world.”

Xiaomi was founded in 2010; the global smartphone market has gotten more competitive since then, and Xiaomi is trying to find its place. Once No. 1 in the China market, Xiaomi has been eclipsed at home by rival local brands Huawei, Oppo and Vivo, according to second-quarter data from IDC.

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Lars is Google’s Head of Marketing across Singapore, Malaysia, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. With nearly two decades of international experience in the Internet and media industry, his passion lies at the intersection of technology and marketing. His career spans across the globe - from Europe to the emerging markets in Asia - from early stage start-ups to large organizations, providing him with an in-depth understanding of marketing, sales and business development across cultures and industries. In his current role he is responsible for local B2B and B2C brand and product marketing across all Google and Youtube services and devices.

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