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Xiaomi ready to take on laptop market in 2016

Category: Blog; Updated: 2018-04-24 00:10:34; Views: 555

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Xiaomi, known for its high-quality designs at cheap prices, will reportedly start producing Linux laptops in Q1 2016.


NeoKylin is a Linux distribution designed to look like Windows XP. It is unclear what Linux distribution Xiaomi will use, but this could be an option for the China market. (Image source: Quartz demo video)

Xiaomi is preparing to start mass producing two Linux laptops in the first quarter of 2016, according to Digitimes. One laptop will be made by Inventec with a 12.5in screen, the other by Compal Electronics with a 13.3in screen. No other details about the possible computers were provided. The manufacturers and Xiaomi are staying quiet.

Xiaomi entering the computer market is not likely to make Linux a hit overnight with consumers, though the company will likely want to leverage its brand recognition in China to this end. The more important question is whether Xiaomi can do for laptop computers what it did for smartphones: improving performance and building quality in the low- and medium-tiered markets. So far, Xiaomi has made a name for itself by borrowing heavily from Apples designs. This pushed competitors to release high-quality phones at low prices, a strategy OnePlus has deployed aggressively while targeting the international market. Huawei has even had success with this tactic, overtaking Xiaomi in China in third quarter phone shipments. Xiaomi might be looking to shake up the laptop market the way it impacted the smartphone market.

Selling Linux computers could be a hurdle, but China has been pushing a homegrown distribution of Ubuntu Linux called Kylin, which is modified to look a lot like Windows XP. Consumers have generally not warmed to Linux, which was not received well when sold on netbooks. Software will probably be less important here, though, than the impact on the laptop hardware market. After all, once consumers have the device, they should be able to install Windows on it if they choose, although whether the hardware is supported through drivers is another matter. It could be that by the end of next year, consumers will be looking for laptops that are almost as aesthetically pleasing as a MacBook Air but at a fraction of the price.

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