Chinese companies like Xiaomi are living proof that "China's design culture is kicking off," American Internet expert Clay Shirky told Xinhua in an exclusive interview.
Founded in 2010 and now the world's third largest smartphone company, Xiaomi shows China's shift from a global manufacturer to a global innovater, Shirky said.
Invited by Columbia Global Centers of East Asia, the NYU Shanghai associate professor and best-selling author hosted a public talk in Beijing following the recent publication of his book "Little Rice: Smartphones, Xiaomi, and the Chinese Dream".
Although Xiaomi is a smartphone manufacturer, it built its reputation through engaging with technically sophisticated users, online sales and social media marketing, he said. The act of combining these three things has created a new model for manufacturing and services and enables Xiaomi to stride ahead of its domestic rivals.
"I think Xiaomi's most remarkable creation, other than the Xiaomi itself, is the way the company works," Shirky said.
Despite patent barriers, Xiaomi also enjoys popularity in developing countries, which take up a big portion of the global market.
In 2014, Sweden's Ericsson won a court order banning the import and sale of Xiaomi smartphones in India due to patent infringements.
Lei Jun, the founder of the company described it as Xiaomi's "coming of age", saying that Xiaomi would invest more in research and development.
Though Xiaomi's business model can be replicated by other companies in other countries, he worries that the Chinese smartphone manufacturer will face market challenges in the western world as its services have many Chinese characteristics which make local success easier but more difficult to export.
He also pointed out that very few western companies start with the letter X, which can be difficult to pronounce or spell.
"The story of China as the world's workshop is ending, and it is really a good lens to see a Chinese design firm firing on all pistons and what it can accomplish," said Shirky.