Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi files for Hong Kong IPO

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Xiaomi, headed by founder Lei Jun, became the market leader in China in 2014 after using viral marketing techniques to sell cheap smartphones equipped with its own customised Android version called MIUI.

The company said 28 percent of its revenue came from worldwide operations in 2017, compared to 13.4 percent in 2016 and 6.1 percent in 2015. The company has posted a net loss of 43.9 billion yuan in 2017 while the revenue increased by 67.5 percent past year.

The company makes the lion's share of its profit - 60 percent - from internet services, including gaming and advertising linked to its homegrown user interface, MIUI, which had 190 million monthly active users as of March 2018. The company remains in fourth place in its home market, where Xiaomi generated 58 percent of phone sales in 2017, according to Canalys.

Challenges persist: It's unclear if Xiaomi can really convince US wireless carriers to sell its phones amid trade tensions with China.

Under Lei, Xiaomi is looking to enter developed markets for smartphones as it consolidates its position in emerging markets.

The company suffered through some challenges in past years. But the company then ran into trouble, suffering a drop in smartphone sales in 2016 as it struggled with supply chain problems. To reach more customers, Xiaomi went physical: it now operates more than 500 brick and mortar retail stores, mostly in China and India.

"If you think of China's tech companies, only a few have a real strategy to expand into the overseas market, and even less have the capability to scale up" globally, said Richard Liu, chief executive of early Xiaomi-backer Morningside Venture Capital. It has enjoyed particularly strong growth in India, where it has overtaken Samsung as the biggest selling smartphone maker. Consequently, Xiaomi's quarterly shipment share swell to 7.2% in Q4 2017 from just 3.3% in Q4 2016.

Xiaomi said its gross profit margin for smartphones was 8.8 percent a year ago, which is much lower than the estimated profit margin of around 60 percent that Apple has for its flagship iPhone devices. It sells a variety of consumer electronics and IOT based gadgets.

Apart from smartphones, Xiaomi has backed dozens of startups producing a wide spectrum of products from wearables to rice cookers.