China's Xiaomi sells 'over' 70M phones in 2015, below its forecasts

Xiaomi said it sold "over 70 million" phones in 2015, falling well short of the 100 million founder Lei Jun once predicted.

The Chinese manufacturer enjoyed a meteoric 2013, leading to a funding round that valued the company at $45 billion and prompting Jun to make the sky-high forecast. But sales have waned as multiple vendors compete at the mid-range and low end of the market and as smartphone sales growth slows both in China and worldwide.

Jun ratcheted down his outlook last year, predicting Xiaomi would sell 80 million units in 2015. But while the company saw a 15 percent increase in smartphone sales from 2014 to 2015, Jun recently told employees he was shifting his focus to "cool stuff" including robotics and virtual reality, according to Bloomberg Business.

"We set a target of 80 million and, before we knew it, it became an obligation," Jun said in an email, Bloomberg Business reported. "We changed under this pressure, and everyone's faces gradually lost all traces of humor."

Xiaomi's success was driven by a limited lineup of mid-priced handsets running its own version of Google's Android OS. The company is now aggressively moving into wearables to offset its flagging smartphone sales in China, and it is pursuing opportunities in untapped emerging markets such as India, Brazil and Indonesia.

A lack of patents has shackled Xiaomi's efforts in some of those regions so far -- one court ruling has severely limited its pursuit of consumers in India, for instance -- but the company appears to be arming itself with a patent portfolio to enable it to better compete in foreign markets. IAM, a Hong Kong-based media outlet, recently uncovered documents indicating Broadcom transferred 19 U.S. patent assets to a company named Xiaomi H.K. Ltd. The transfer includes 15 issued patents and four applications that relate to wireless telecom technology.

It isn't certain that the Hong Kong-based firm is associated with China's Xiaomi, but the patents may help the smartphone manufacturer access markets it has been unable to reach.

For more:
- read this Bloomberg Business story

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