Last year Xiaomi’s market share slid notably in its native China, as the smartphone maker moved from first to fifth place (and tellingly avoided publishing its own sales figures for the first time). 2017, meanwhile, has already has seen its own share of issues for the company, with head of international Hugo Barra jumping ship a few days before it announced that it didn’t have anything on tap for Mobile World Congress, the year’s biggest phone show.
It seems the company needs some time to ready its next big step. This week, The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Xiaomi is planning to join Samsung, Apple and fellow Chinese manufacturer Huawei in the elite club of smartphone makers building their own processors.
According to the paper’s sources, the company is planning to release its Pinecone chip within a month (which could have been great timing for MWC, as it happens). The chip is said to be the product of Beijing Pinecone Electronics, a company tied to Xiaomi that resulted from a $15 million technology buy from Datang subsidiary Leadcore Technology Ltd.
It’s a pricey move – and a risky one, as much of the competition focuses on undercutting prices. Though it could help distinguish the company from a seemingly ever-growing number of smartphone makers in its home country. It would also make Xiaomi less reliant on Qualcomm, which is currently under heat for patent issues in India, a major market for the smartphone maker, where it launched the Snapdragon-powered Redmi Note 4 earlier in the year.
Xiaomi is also aggressively pushing for growth in additional markets, including Indonesia, where the company opened up a new plant this week, with the goal of manufacturing up to one million phones a year for the local market.
We’ve reached out to the company for comment.