Xiaomi signals major investment in R&D with AI focus
Xiaomi will invest 20 billion yuan (US$2.76 billion) annually to integrate artificial intelligence into smartphones, automobiles, smart devices and robots, the company's Chief Executive said in Beijing on Monday night.
An upcoming on-device AI technology would also allow people to use generative AI services, including ChatGPT-like services, on smartphones in the future, Xiaomi chief executive Lei Jun said at a company presentation.
On-device generative AI services, dog-like robots able to avoid obstacles automatically, and new-generation lightweight foldable smartphones – they are among a bunch of tech-savvy devices and services with a new innovation-oriented strategy that Xiaomi Corp released at the event.
Xiaomi, the world's No. 3 smartphone vendor, would invest 20 billion yuan in 2023, covering artificial intelligence; chips and materials for high-end phones; robotics, and autonomous driving.
Long-term research investment was planned of up to 100 billion yuan in the next five years. One keyword trend was AI, which would cover smartphones, automotives, smart devices and the robot business, Lei said.
"Innovation and research lead us to a new Xiaomi, with AI empowering hardware and software," Lei said in a three-hour speech to an on-site audience of 3,500 people.
It is against the backdrop of much fiercer competition among tech companies while consumers yearn for more innovation and tech breakthroughs.
Xiaomi will develop a localized and on-device AI large language model (LLM), especially in the mobile sector. In contrast to ChatGPT and other online generative AI services, this would not risk personal information and data leakage, or rely on big AI computing capacity, which often entails a huge amount of investment.
Xiaomi's mobile-end LLM would debut on the popular voice assistant XiaoAi, which now has 110 million monthly active users. The AI LLM-upgraded XiaoAi has started to invite customers for public tests, Lei said.
Meanwhile, Xiaomi would continue its expansion into the high-end market segment, and compete with Apple's iPhones. The brand faced challenges and failures in previous-generation models but had received a warm market response recently, Lei said, as he released Xiaomi's new Mix Fold 3 in Beijing with a starting price of 8,999 yuan.
Xiaomi had to make changes as it faced pressures from a declining smartphone market and competition pressures from domestic rivals, industry insiders said.
In the second quarter, global smartphone market sales fell by 10 percent to 258.2 million units. Samsung, Apple and Xiaomi are the top three vendors in the market, according to researcher Canalys.
Also in Beijing, Xiaomi released a new four-footed robot CyberDog 2 that costs 12,999 yuan, a new tablet, and a new wristband device.