The little giant shows a huge passion for quality devices

An XGIMI outlet is seen in Shanghai in January. [Photo provided to CHINA DAILY]

Chengdu-based smart projector maker XGIMI aims to become a global leader

Editor’s note: China aims to feed 10,000 “little giants” from 2021 to 2025 as part of an ambitious plan to boost the vitality of small and medium-sized businesses in its sprawling industrial economy. The “little giants” generally specialize in niche sectors, hold high market shares and have a strong capacity for innovation. To qualify as a “small giant”, a Chinese company must have recorded an average growth rate of at least 5% year-on-year in its main revenue or net profit over the past two years. More importantly, it must have two valid invention patents or other similar proof of its innovative capabilities, and at least 3% of its turnover must be devoted to R&D, among other financial criteria. and operational. China Daily explores how they are helping the world’s second-largest economy stabilize its industrial and supply chains, weather the headwinds of the COVID-19 pandemic, and make breakthroughs in technological bottlenecks.

Chinese manufacturers have made rapid progress in making modern projectors that deliver much better quality images to a large screen or wall than ever before, thanks in part to their relentless dedication to producing high-quality devices that deliver good value to consumers, said industry experts.

“I’ve destroyed at least 50 brand-new prototype projectors over the past few years,” said Zhong Bo, president of XGIMI, a smart projector maker in Chengdu, Sichuan province.

Any projector model will be scrapped if deficiencies are found, even if the prototype has been tested, the company said.

The practice has been an unwritten rule since XGIMI was founded in 2013, helping propel the small tech startup to become the country’s largest smart projector maker in 2018, according to international consultancy Data Corp.

Projectors, which have been made using different technologies for decades, have been revived by high-tech modifications, making them popular for uses such as home television and gaming. Smart or smart projectors can work with voice commands and allow pairing from other devices.

China’s rapid progress in this area has ended 15 years of domination of the country’s projector market by foreign brands, including Epson and Sony in Japan.

IDC’s report showed that in the first half of 2018, of the top five smart projector companies by shipments to China, three were overseas brands.

Last year, the top five brands in the Chinese projector market by shipment were XGIMI, Epson, Nuts, Fengmi and Dangbei. Of the five, only one, Epson, is not a Chinese company.

XGIMI had a market share of 21.2%, almost the sum of the remaining top four brands combined. The company also performed well in the high-end projector market, according to the report.

XGIMI is in many ways representative of China’s “small giant enterprises”, or innovative small and medium-sized enterprises that specialize in niche sectors, hold a high market share, have a strong capacity for innovation and technologies. and, more importantly, are likely to become future champions in bottleneck sectors.

As of March, the country had 4,762 “little giant” enterprises at the national level and more than 40,000 “little giant” enterprises at the provincial level, according to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. More than 350 “little giant” companies like XGIMI were listed on Chinese stock exchanges in January.

Zhong attributed XGIMI’s success to continuous innovations. “Globally, few companies have led the world in original innovation like Apple and DJI. XGIMI works hard to promote Chinese-made products to the outside world,” he said. DJI is the acronym for drone manufacturer DaJiang Innovations.

“At the beginning of entrepreneurship, there are two paths open to us. One is to be a follower, which obviously carries little risk, and the other is to overthrow all the established rules, create a new product form and to be an innovator.”

To innovate in its core technologies, XGIMI has created an optical laboratory. In 2019, it carried out the research and development of optomechanical technology, applied the technology, and put the machines using it into mass production. This technology involves integrating optics such as lenses into mechanical devices to create optical instruments.

Its latest product, XGIMI RS Pro 2, features 4K HDR, or high dynamic range, image with a brightness of 2,200 ANSI lumens, which is 47% brighter than its previous generation of projectors and allows users to enjoy content with sharper images and a deeper color gamut.

“For Chinese tech startups, innovation must be in their DNA. Technological and business model innovations can directly drive the progress of companies and the entire industry,” he said.

In the first three quarters of 2021, XGIMI invested 175 million yuan ($27.48 million) in research and development, which marked a year-on-year increase of nearly 100%. . The company holds 440 patents and has launched more than 30 products.

Zhu Yuanyuan, consumer electronics researcher at smart home data provider All View Cloud, said the smart projector segment is heating up, boosted by Chinese consumer upgrades as more people search a better quality of life.

“Facing fierce competition both at home and abroad, smart projector manufacturers should seek to improve image brightness and sharpness and develop more innovative products,” Zhu said.

According to IDC’s report released in late March, China’s projector market’s total shipments reached 4.7 million units last year, up 12.6% year-on-year despite the COVID-19 outbreak. .

The consultancy expects the Chinese projector market to sell more than 5.6 million units this year, an increase of nearly 20% year-on-year.

“For XGIMI, being the largest smart projector manufacturer in China is not the end. The company’s ultimate goal is to dominate the global market,” Zhong said.

The company has achieved great momentum in overseas markets, industry experts said. To date, it has sold its products in over 100 markets, including Europe, Japan, the United States and Singapore.

In 2020, the company’s overseas revenue grew more than 330% year-on-year, according to its financial report.

“By strengthening global efforts, we aim to become the world’s largest smart projector company,” Zhong said.

In Japan, a market that has many world-renowned tech brands, including gaming leader Nintendo Switch, an innovative lamp-powered device made by XGIMI that sold out upon launch.

The product, named PopIn Aladdin, is a ceiling light with a built-in projector and a built-in Bluetooth speaker, which was one of the world’s first “three-in-one” smart projection lights.

The product serves as both a lighting device and a voice-activated projector with high-resolution images that the company says are comparable to content in a movie theater or e-book reader, whether it’s acts as a still image viewer or music player.

“In Japan, we adapt our products according to different characteristics in different countries to make them truly localized,” Zhong said.

“It is not difficult to develop a good product, but it is difficult to produce something that not only meets basic requirements, but also creates surprises” and helps consumers, Zhong said, adding that it is one of the reasons why PopIn Aladdin has been so popular. in Japan.

The company has also upgraded the projector to its second generation, which is 14% thinner. It can project a 100-inch screen from a distance of 1.78 meters, which means users can enjoy a super big screen in a small room.

XGIMI has set up a national overseas product localization R&D team, and also set up a new overseas team in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, to further develop the business of the business in these markets.

When increasing its overseas presence, the company chose to start in developed countries like the United States and then expand into markets such as Southeast Asia and India. , Zhong said.

“If our products are accepted by consumers and become successful in markets that are strong in technology, it would mean that we don’t have to worry about entering other markets around the world.”

Zhong said that in the future, the company will continue to increase R&D investment and allow products to better meet local needs in offshore markets.