Emily Chang, for Bloomberg, interviewed Xiaomi SVP Hugo Barra. Hugo had some interesting things to say:
So this whole [accusation that Xiaomi copies Apple] all boils down to one chamfered edge, on one particular phone model, which was Mi4, which people said looked like the iPhone 5.
If Jony Ive and his team — who are the most constrained to continuity in the iPhone’s design language — can make the latest major generation of iPhones look different from the last major generation, then so can any other OEM. Imitation is a choice. Different design is possible. It just requires leaders with fortitude and integrity.
But Hugo had more to say:
Without a doubt every smartphone these days kind of looks like every other smartphone, right? You have to have curved corners. You have to have at least a home button, in some way. That’s how interaction design works.
Sounds like an opportunity to me – an opportunity to be different in a sea of look-alikes. This difference can range from the small to the large: industrial design details, form factor, or even product type. Think of the beige boxes that PC makers shipped before Apple introduced the iMac. Or the candy bar phones before the Motorola RAZR.