While Xiaomi has been lauded over the past few days for the launch of its bezel-less Mi Mix smartphone, the company has been aching with the departure of its chief content architect.
Chen Tong was hired by Xiaomi two years ago as the mobile company sought to expand its ecosystem past hardware to a full content experience for users. But now the ex-editor in chief of Sina.com is moving back to the media world as president of Phoenix New Media's news app subsidiary Particle Inc.
Xiaomi has been under intense pressure after it missed sales targets last year while strong competitors emerged to take over market share. Latest statistics show Chinese smartphone rivals Oppo and Vivo are beating Xiaomi, and others like Meizu, Huawei, and ZTE are also taking considerable market share.
But Chen is reportedly leaving Xiaomi on friendly terms, as Xiaomi and Phoenix New Media have been working together on content synergies and Xiaomi is also a shareholder of Particle.
During Chen's tenure at Xiaomi, the Chinese mobile phone company purchased stakes in Chinese online video platform Youku and iQiyi.
Research from Counterpoint's Market Monitor shows the demand for smartphones in China grew 8% annually and 7% sequentially in the third quarter of 2016. Oppo and Vivo became the number one and two smartphone brands in China capturing 17% and 16% share, respectively.
The research showed that shipments for Oppo's smartphones reportedly grew 82% annually whereas Vivo recorded the highest growth in China during the quarter as the demand for its shipments rose 114% annually, more than doubling its volumes. Xiaomi suffered as its shipments were down 22% annually with demand mostly skewed towards low-end models such as Redmi 3s.