|Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun with Mitu, the company's politically correct mascot|
While some believe Xiaomi's phones are improving very quickly, others still dismiss Lei as a "counterfeit Steve Jobs", from introducing items like the MiPad, MiCloud, and MiTV, and trying to dress similarly to the Apple co-founder with jeans and dark shirts, and having presentations that look very similar.
Nonetheless, one can't fault Lei for having the guts to stand in front of an enthusiastic audience in India and speak in English when it's not his forte.
He was in New Delhi last Thursday to launch Xiaomi's first product for the international market, and he came on stage dressed in a blazer, shirt, jeans and runners.
"Hello, how are you?" Lei asked the Indian audience. "India Mi fans, I'm very happy to be in China," he said. Then quickly realizing his mistake he corrected himself and said, "to be in India."
The crowd laughed, but ultimately clapped and cheered him on.
Then he announced that everyone in the audience would get a free gift -- a Xiaomi smart wristband. Thinking he had to get them enthused, Lei said, "Are you OK? Are you OK?"
|Mitu and his various incarnations with Xiaomi products|
Or maybe he meant to say something else?
At this point one can't help but squirm in his seat listening to the bad English, but at the same time admire him for having the chutzpah to say it anyway.
The video of his short presentation was uploaded onto Youku on Monday and garnered 440,000 views within 24 hours.
While Alibaba's Jack Ma was an English teacher in his former life, Lei, like most nerds focused on computer science; the same goes for Lenovo's Yuan Yangqing, who learnt English as an adult after the company acquired IBM's PC business 10 years ago.
Lei has been upbeat about the attention over his English, taking it in stride.
"In China's education system, we actually studied English from middle school all the way through college," he told the Wall Street Journal. "My English test scores were all very good, but it turns out it was only very good in tests."
He later posted on Weibo: "I never imagined the video would go viral in China and the whole nation would be laughing." Some commented by jokingly asking, "Are you OK?"
Lei then updated his post. "Now there are more and more international Xiaomi fans. Indeed, I should learn English well and not let you down! Cheers!"
Now that's the spirit!