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Barra wants Xiaomi to be next Apple or Google

Xiaomi could become the next Apple or Google with its newest hire setting his sights high ahead of his first day on the job.

Former Android head of product management Hugo Barra has visions of turning the Chinese firm into a global behemoth on the same level as Apple and Google.

“The aspiration for the founders is that Xiaomi will become a global company that happens to be in China. If I do my job right, in a few years, the world will be talking about Xiaomi in the same way that they talk about Google and Apple today,” he said in a recent interview with AllThingsD.

Barra is the company’s first non-Chinese hire and will be responsible for its global expansion efforts as it tries to extend its reach beyond the Chinese smartphone market.

At Google, Barra was head of product management for Android and it meant gaining first hand knowledge of the moves being made by Xiaomi. When Android design head Matias Duarte said that Xiaomi had done the best job at extending the OS platform of anyone, it made Barra think hard about what to do next.

“It was a distinctively important moment for me,” Barra said. “Matias’s opinion really mattered a lot, and it was a big signal they were doing something right, and a pretty significant vote of confidence.”

It was shortly after this that a dialogue between Barra and Xiaomi, which lasted over a year, started.

“At first, their questions were, ‘How do you think we should go about expanding internationally?’ And that evolved into, ‘Maybe you should come help us,’” Barra added.

Barra joins a company that only launched in 2011 and its formula of releasing high end devices at low end prices as well as budget smartphones has proved very popular with consumers. It was illustrated by the fact the firm already has five per cent of the Chinese market and pushed the iPhone into last place.