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Mobile

Xiaomi doubled revenue in 2014, raking in $12B

Shipments of handsets from the 4-year-old smartphone maker more than tripled last year, according to the company's CEO.

xiaomi-redmi-1s.jpg
The Redmi 1S has been a hit for Xiaomi. Xiaomi

Xiaomi continued its meteoric growth in 2014, more than doubling its revenue from the year before, the CEO of world's third-largest smartphone maker revealed Sunday.

The Chinese handset maker raked in 74.3 billion yuan ($12.1 billion) in pre-tax sales last year, an increase of 135 percent from 2013, Lei Jun wrote on a Weibo blog blog Sunday. The company's revenue boost came on the sales of a little more than 61 million handsets in 2014, an increase of 227 percent from a year earlier, Lei wrote.

The figures underscore the rapid success of Xiaomi, which has vaulted to the No. 3 position among global smartphone makers by selling low-cost smartphones and tablets aimed at budget-conscious customers in markets such as China, Indonesia and India. While largely avoiding western countries such as the US, the UK and Australia, the company plans greater global expansion in the new year, Lei wrote.

"We believe everyone in the world would appreciate the opportunity to enjoy technology innovation," Lei wrote, according to a translation provided by the company. "Thus we remain fully committed to our global business."

Despite its rapid sales growth, Xiaomi faces obstacle to expansion into developed markets due to concerns over intellectual property. Ericsson has sued Xiaomi for infringing on patents earlier this month, prompting a ban on sales in India. The ban has been temporarily lifted, but the legal dispute continues.

The company has also been criticized for the similarities between its devices -- both smartphones and tablets -- and Apple's. Apple design chief, Jony Ive, has accused Xiaomi of design "theft" and of "being lazy." Hugo Barra, vice president of Xiaomi and a former Google executive, has said that while his designers are inspired by many things, Xiaomi is no copycat.

The 4-year-old company has been on a tear lately, quadrupling its valuation while other established handset makers, including smartphone giant Samsung, have stumbled. The company recently became the world's most valuable venture-backed startup when it secured $1.1 billion in venture capital funding, giving it a valuation of $45 billion.

In just four years, the company managed to become the third-largest smartphone provider in the world, following only Samsung and Apple, according to IDC. In August, Xiaomi topped Samsung as China's leading smartphone maker, according to research firm Canalys. The company has generated a huge amount of buzz for devices like its Redmi 1S by holding online flash sales -- in which a limited number of phones go on sale at any one time.