China's Xiaomi defends itself from Apple copycat claims

Xiaomi has continually faced criticism that the company's products look too much like Apple's

Facing claims that the company lifts too much from Apple, Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi defended its design philosophy and said the whole industry is constantly innovating on the ideas of the competition.

"Our designers, our engineers, are inspired by great products and by great design out there. And frankly who in today's world isn't?" Xiaomi vice president Hugo Barra said on Tuesday.

Barra made the comment while speaking at The Wall Street Journal's technology conference, where he added, "Point me to a product in our industry, a new product that came out that had completely unique design language. You're not going to be able to find one."

Xiaomi, which began selling Android smartphones in China three years ago, has quickly risen to become one of the country's top handset makers, and is already embarking on a global expansion.

But the company has continually faced criticism that it steals ideas from Apple, with some in the media dubbing it the "Apple of China." Xiaomi's newest handset, for example, has a similar exterior design to Apple's previous iPhones.

Earlier this month, Apple's design head Jonathan Ive was asked his thoughts on Xiaomi, and how the company's products are similar to Apple. "I don't see it as flattery, I'm just talking about this issue in general. I actually see it as theft," he said.

"The first thing I think isn't, oh that was flattering," he said, adding, "I think it's really straight forward. It really is theft and it's lazy. And I don't think it's OK at all."

On Tuesday, Xiaomi's Barra said the Chinese company admired Apple's products and went as far to call the iPhone 6, "the most beautiful smartphone ever built."

"I'm a huge Apple fan, Apple is the world's design mecca," he said. But he added that the U.S. tech giant also lifts ideas from competitors, including those used in HTC products and Google's Android OS.

"I think it's fascinating that Apple took existing ideas that were very good, added their twist of innovation on top, and in many cases they actually made those ideas better," Barra said.

"So this idea of building upon great ideas and adding a twist of innovation is what they do. It's what we do," he added.

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Michael Kan

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