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小米的浴火重生之路

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Xiaomi, once the world’s most valuable unicorn, looked set to become one of China’s biggest unicorpses: it burnt cash, and stumbled with supply problems. Now, with fortunes improving, it is staging its next act: Chinese phoenix.
一度是全球估值最高“独角兽”的小米(Xiaomi),前一阶段貌似会沦为中国最大的“独角尸”之一:烧钱,深陷供应困境。如今,随着时运回升,小米的好戏进入下一幕:浴火重生的中国凤凰。
The Beijing-based tech company, which makes products ranging from smartphones to smart rice cookers, re-entered the top five of global smartphone makers in the second quarter, as shipments surged 59 per cent year on year to 21m, according to the IDC research firm.
据咨询公司IDC表示,第二季度,这家总部位于北京的科技公司再次进入全球智能手机制造商五强之列,出货量2100万台,同比增长59%。小米生产从智能手机到智能电饭煲的各类产品。
The recovery, noted founder and chief executive Lei Jun, “follows a year of setbacks that collectively signify the most challenging period in our company history”.
小米公司的创始人和首席执行官雷军提到,此次恢复元气之前经历了“一年的挫折,可以说是我们公司史上最具挑战的时期”。
“We needed to slow down,” says Shou Zi Chew, the company’s youthful chief financial officer, speaking in Xiaomi’s surprisingly small headquarters in Beijing’s northwestern tech district.
“我们需要放慢速度,”该公司长相年轻的首席财务官周受资(Shou Zi Chew)在小米北京总部表示。地处北京西北高科技区的这个总部小得让人意外。
“From zero to $10bn in revenue, excluding the year we didn’t have a smartphone, it took four years. Think of the organisational challenge. We needed to build organisational strength.”
“除去我们没有智能手机的一年,营收从零到100亿美元,我们用了4年。想想这里面的组织挑战。我们需要打造组织实力。”
While history is a relative concept in China’s entrepreneurial world — Xiaomi is a mere seven years old — there is no disputing the setbacks.
尽管“历史”在中国企业界只是一个相对的概念——小米仅仅成立了7年——但小米经受过挫折是不争的事实。
The company was valued at $45bn in a late 2014 fundraising, exceeding Uber’s then-$40bn, but missed its 2015 handset shipment targets as smaller rivals grabbed market share.
在2014年末融资时,小米的估值达到450亿美元,超过了优步(Uber)当时400亿美元的估值,但是由于被较小的竞争者夺走了市场份额,小米没有实现2015年手机出货量目标。
It ceded its top three China ranking to upstarts Oppo and Vivo, smartphone stablemates that, like Xiaomi before them, came out of nowhere to rank as the second and third most popular handset makers in China, respectively, in the second quarter of 2016, according to Gartner.
小米的中国智能手机三强位置让给了后起之秀Oppo和Vivo。据高德纳(Gartner)表示,Oppo和Vivo就像之前的小米一样异军突起,在2016年第二季度分别成为中国第二大和第三大最受欢迎的手机制造商。
Also, like their predecessor, they achieved this by selling heavily online and thus scooping up sales in third- and fourth-tier cities.
同样,和它们的前辈小米一样,Oppo和Vivo注重网上销售并因此抢占了三四线城市的销量,由此取得佳绩。
“A few years ago, we rushed too fast, achieving a miracle in the history of modern business growth, but we also overspent a portion of our growth,” a humbled Mr Lei wrote in a memo posted on his WeChat account and on Facebook in January.
“前几年我们冲得太快,创造了现代商业史上的成长奇迹,但也提前透支了一部分成长性,”痛定思痛的雷军今年1月在其微信(WeChat)账号和Facebook上发表的备忘录中写道。
“We must slow down and earnestly learn from our mistakes. Prevention is better than having to fix things later.”
“我们必须放慢脚步、认真补课,而且早补要比晚补好,文火慢补要比急火猛药好。”
Many industry observers give Xiaomi full points for doing just that. “A monster quarter has brought Xiaomi back into contention as a major player in the smartphone industry,” wrote Radio Free Mobile’s Richard Windsor in a recent note to clients.
很多行业观察者因此给小米打了满分。“一个好季度让小米作为智能手机行业重量级选手重返竞技场,”Radio Free Mobile的理查德?温莎(Richard Windsor)最近在写给客户的简报中写道。
The company has gone from 10,000 to 14,000 employees in the past year as part of what Mr Chew calls a long-overdue recruitment drive. “We had the same valuation yet a fraction of the staff of our peers,” he says.
过去一年该公司的员工总数已经从1万人增加至1.4万人,周受资称,这是拖延已久的招聘活动的一部分。他称,“我们和同行拥有同样的估值,但是员工数量仅为他们的一小部分。”
Sustainability is the big question. “This recovery needs to be more than just a product cycle for it to stay there,” says Mr Windsor.
可持续性是大问题。“此次恢复需要持续不止一个产品周期,才能使它保持强者地位,”温莎表示。
Xiaomi’s formula for its turnround is three-pronged: improving technology, broadening distribution and going global.
小米的转型方案是三管齐下:提高技术、扩大分销以及全球化发展。
On technology, it has moved to design its own processor, enabling it to reduce battery weight as well as its reliance on foreign makers like Qualcomm. It has applied for more than 16,000 patents so far, and has been granted 4,000.
在技术上,小米已经开始设计自己的处理器,以减轻电池重量并降低对高通(Qualcomm)等外国制造商的依赖。迄今小米已申请逾1.6万项专利,并获得了4000项专利。
Mr Lei is also banking on the combination of supplementing online sales with physical stores, the seamless “new retail” being pursued by the likes of tech giant Alibaba, and conquering new markets, specifically India.
在销售上,雷军还寄望用实体店补充网上销售——也就是阿里巴巴(Alibaba)等科技巨头追求的无缝“新零售”——以及征服印度等新市场。
That same strategy helped Oppo and Vivo pick off customers beyond the bigger and wealthier parts of China, where many people were not online.
同样的策略曾帮助Oppo和Vivo在中国富裕大城市以外的地区赢得顾客,这些地区的很多人不上网。
But Xiaomi has taken its stores a step further, adding a range of household appliances to its shelves — all items that come with apps for smart deployment and are a potential revenue stream, according to Hans Tung, partner at GGV, and an early investor in Xiaomi while at Qiming Ventures.
纪源资本(GGV Capital)合伙人、在启明创投(Qiming Venture)时成为小米早期投资人的童士豪(Hans Tung)表示,小米让实体店更进一步,在店内销售一系列家用电器——所有产品都带有App,使其可形成智能家居,并且开辟一条潜在的营收来源。
“Every single product has an app that controls it; as people spend more time on these apps, so you can sell ads,” he says. For instance, a home assistant speaker is a logical extension. From that, internet services can be bolted on such as gaming, as well as online ads.
“每一件产品都有可以控制它的App;当人们越来越多地使用这些App时,你就可以卖广告了,”他表示。例如,智能家居助手音箱是合乎逻辑的延伸产品。接着可以添加互联网服务,比如游戏,以及在线广告等。
The strategy is showing signs of success. Xiaomi is now the world’s top-selling maker of wearables such as fitness bands, with its 13.4 per cent market share putting it a whisker above Apple and Fitbit, the latter the one-time doyen of the sector.
该策略正在表现出成功的迹象。小米如今在可穿戴设备上是全球销量最高的制造商,在健康手环上占据了13.4%的市场份额,高于苹果(Apple)以及曾经是该领域老大的Fitbit。
Xiaomi now has 137 Mi stores across China, and prides itself on keeping the same prices online and in-store, while also managing the near-impossible task of keeping operating margins the same — the cost of a sale in-store is the same as online, thanks to blending on and offline, the company claims.
如今小米在中国各地开设了137家“小米之家”,以线上和线下统一价标榜自己,同时还做到了保持运营利润率不变这一近乎不可能的事情——该公司声称,由于线上线下相结合,实体店销售成本和线上销售成本相同。
Global expansion is perhaps Xiaomi’s boldest step. The company has set its sights largely on emerging markets.
全球化扩张或许是小米最果敢的一步。迄今该公司主要着眼于新兴市场。
It claims to be the third-biggest handset seller in Indonesia and fourth in Russia. It is particularly focused on India, where Oppo and Vivo have won legions of fans largely through a canny use of cricket sponsorship.
小米声称在印度尼西亚的手机销量位列第三,在俄罗斯的销量位列第四。该公司格外注重印度市场;在印度,Oppo和Vivo主要通过赞助板球联赛的精明之举赢得了大批粉丝。
It is, says Kavin Bharti Mittal, founder and chief executive of India’s Hike Messenger, a Tencent-backed messaging unicorn, a niche brand but a well-respected one, in a fickle market. “Smartphones get rotated every 12 months, that’s the average in India,” he says. “It’s all about price and features.”
腾讯(Tencent)支持的印度独角兽公司Hike Messenger的创始人和首席执行官凯文?巴蒂?米塔尔(Kavin Bharti Mittal)表示,小米是小众品牌,但在这个易变的市场深受尊重。“智能手机每12个月换代一次,这是印度的平均水平,”他表示,“关键在于价格和功能特色。”
Neha Dharia, a senior analyst at telecoms consultancy Ovum, concurs: with brand loyalty to handsets a thing of the past, Chinese brands are mopping up in India, she says.
电信咨询公司Ovum的高级分析师内哈?达里亚(Neha Dharia)表示赞同。她说,随着人们对手机品牌的忠诚度成为历史,中国品牌正在横扫印度市场。
Xiaomi says that over 95 per cent of its phones sold in India and Indonesia are made locally, although given the complexity of supply chains, this often means assembled rather than fully manufactured.
小米表示,在印度和印尼销售的小米手机95%以上是当地生产的,尽管考虑到供应链的复杂性,这往往只是指组装,而非完整制造过程。
But Ms Dharia notes that the market remains fickle, and the rise of domestic telecoms operator Reliance Jio will further disrupt the market by boosting demand for 4G (aided by the provision of $63 phones).
但达里亚指出,手机市场仍然多变,印度本土电信运营商Reliance Jio的崛起将通过提振4G需求(得益于该公司提供的63美元的手机)进一步扰乱这一市场。
It will fall to which manufacturers can keep up with supply, something that proved an Achilles heel for Xiaomi during its downturn.
未来将取决于哪些制造商能够跟上供应,这一点曾被证明是小米的致命弱点。
For now, Mr Lei has a “humble” revenue goal of Rmb100bn ($15.3bn) this year and a target of shipping 100m smartphones in 2018. Beyond that, he becomes somewhat more ambitious, claiming Xiaomi’s future “is as vast as the constellations and beyond”.
目前,雷军定下的“小目标”是今年达到1000亿元人民币(合153亿美元)营收,2018年出货1亿部智能手机。对于更遥远的未来,他变得有点更为雄心勃勃,声称小米的未来就像“星辰大海”。
Xiaomi chief models company on retail rather than tech icons
小米CEO模仿的是零售企业,而非偶像级科技企业
Lei Jun, founder and chief executive of Beijing-based Xiaomi, is often referred to as the “Steve Jobs of China”, write Yingzhi Yang and Yuan Yang in Beijing.
总部位于北京的小米科技创始人和首席执行官雷军,经常被称为“中国的史蒂夫?乔布斯(Steve Jobs)”。
But Mr Lei has his sights set on a business model from the much less glamorous world of American retail rather than Silicon Valley.
但在业务模式上,雷军学习的目标不是硅谷,而是不那么光鲜的美国零售业。
“We have the same value system as Costco,” the serial tech entrepreneur once said. The company’s executives are obsessed with efficiency in manufacturing and distribution chains, as much as they are with new gadgets.
“我们拥有与好市多(Costco)同样的价值体系,”这位多次创业的科技企业家曾表示。该公司的高管像痴迷新产品一样,痴迷于制造和分销链的效率。
Xiaomi, which means “millet grain” in Chinese, was founded by Mr Lei in 2010 after a simple meal of millet porridge with its first employees. In his early 40s then, he was already a billionaire and had enjoyed success as a start-up founder.
雷军在2010年创立了小米科技,当时他请首批员工简单地吃了一顿小米粥。时年40岁出头的雷军早已是一名亿万富翁,享受过作为初创企业创始人的成功。
Born in 1969 in central China, Mr Lei copied a childhood friend in choosing to study computer science, reading about Steve Jobs’ achievements towards the end of his time at Wuhan University.
雷军1969年出生于中国中部,他效仿一个儿时伙伴选择学习计算机科学,在武汉大学临近毕业时读到了史蒂夫?乔布斯的成就。
小米的浴火重生之路.jpgHis first job was working as an engineer in the early days of software company Kingsoft, where he later became president and led it to an IPO.
他的第一份工作是在初创时期的金山软件公司(Kingsoft)担任工程师,后来成为金山的总裁,并带领公司上市。
While at Kingsoft, he also started an online bookstore, joyo.com, before selling it four years later to Amazon for $75m.
他在金山任职期间还创办了在线书店卓越网(joyo.com),并在四年后以7500万美元的价格出售给了亚马逊(Amazon)。
Mr Lei is also a serial venture capitalist, who invested in 56 start-ups between 2014 and 2016, including social platform YY, the originator of China’s now-ubiquitous live-streaming platforms, and UCWeb, a web browser bought by Alibaba in 2014.
雷军还是一位闲不住的风投资本家,他在2014年至2016年间投资了56家初创企业,其中包括社交平台YY直播和互联网浏览器UCWeb。前者是中国当下十分流行的各种直播平台的鼻祖,后者于2014年被阿里巴巴收购。
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