Xiaomi Corp unveiled its first tablet product on Thursday, challenging the iPad's dominance in the sector.
The Xiaomi Tablet, which looks almost exactly like Apple Inc's iPad Mini series, will become the strongest challenger for the iPad, said Lei Jun, founder and chief executive officer of the Beijing-based company. It goes on sale next month.
"Apple should feel some pressure, because our product will let it know not every Android tablet is resting in a drawer somewhere," said Lei.
Xiaomi's tablet has a longer battery life, better camera and lower price tag than the iPad Mini, at least according to the product specifications for both.
Selling at 1,699 yuan (S$341.34) for the 64-gigabyte version, Xiaomi's device is nearly 3,500 yuan cheaper than the 64GB iPad Mini, its Apple counterpart.
However, Xiaomi Tablet can't yet claim victory over the iPad series on some fronts, such as its number of applications.
The company only developed 100 utility apps and 400 games suitable for the new gadget.
Xiaomi's tablet aims to challenge Apple's iPad
Lei acknowledged the gap and pledged to lift the total app number to 2,000 by the end of this year.
Apple has more than 1 million apps in its online store. In the fourth quarter of last year, the iPad series took more than 60 per cent of tablet sales in China, according to local research company Analysys International.
"I am not surprised to see Xiaomi expand into the tablet market. However, unlike the time when Xiaomi entered the smartphone market, the tablet market now - especially in the low- and middle-end sectors - is crowded with a large number of powerful global brands and local vendors," said Nicole Peng, research director of Shanghai-based consultancy Canalys China.
"It will not be easy for another low-cost Android tablet to take significant market share."
Lei, 45, characterized by local media as China's Steve Jobs, spent 90 minutes introducing the hardware performances of the new tablet and a smart television product. But he very obviously avoided topics such as the company's widely debated "going global" plans.
Xiaomi signaled its intentions last month to tap into overseas markets, starting with smartphones, the company's strongest unit.
According to Canalys, Xiaomi is the world's sixth-largest smartphone maker in terms of shipments. Although strong local sales to low- and middle-end buyers helped to digest 97 per cent of its total shipments, it is betting on emerging Asian markets for future sales growth.
Analysts believe the Chinese company may want to pick some less-developed markets to start its globalisation plan.
Xiaomi's overseas strategy will not work for markets such as Singapore, where operators give a heavy subsidy for high-end smartphones, said Bryan Wang, China head of Forrester Research Inc, a global technology think tank.
"Exploring overseas markets means Xiaomi needs to know the local distribution channel and consumer behaviours very well. I believe Xiaomi could be working on that right now," said Wang.