How MIUI themes became a profitable business

At the core of Xiaomi’s products is MIUI, an Android-based operating system – and while the user interface boasts numerous unique features, its themes have become the most popular among Xiaomi smartphone users. In fact, Xiaomi’s data shows that the top MIUI theme shopper spent around RMB 6,100 (about $936) on MIUI themes in 2016, which is enough to buy seven Redmi Note 4 smartphones in India.

Above are some popular MIUI themes in the first half of 2017

MIUI themes have grown in popularity as users look for ways to reflect their individuality, using the themes as they would a hairstyle or outfit to make a statement about who they are, just like how they would use a case or a cover.

Xiaomi launched the first version of MIUI themes in 2010 on our original smartphones. The themes were originally offered for free, as they were used to attract users who wanted personalized features on their smartphones. As MIUI users increased and the demand for personalized themes grew, we realized that only creative, high-quality themes could satisfy users and attract more consumers.

Above are some figures of the MIUI theme business in 2016

To achieve this, we had to attract more talented designers. Thus, a MIUI theme store opened in 2012 to sell themes to users. As of 2013, themes have become the third largest contributor to MIUI’s RMB 30 million monthly revenue (only after games and apps). That year, 1,800 designers uploaded a whopping 4,300 themes, creating a record-high monthly revenue of RMB 1.8 million. In 2016, the number of active designers surged to 3,876 – more than 1,104 from previous year. They also uploaded a total of 44,775 themes, which more than doubled the number of themes created in 2015.

How does Xiaomi attract designers?

Every designer receives approximately 70% of their MIUI themes’ revenue (post-tax). In 2016, the most profitable designer earned RMB 5.65 million before tax and gainsharing with Xiaomi.

We also hold occasional offline theme design competitions, offering attractive awards.

Above features an offline design competition held at a theater in Beijing

Additionally, we offer a base incentive of RMB 3,000 for certain themes at the start of the designing process so that designers won’t focus too much on sales and make truly creative MIUI themes.

Xiaomi believes in investing in our MIUI designers – if you are good, we make you better. We provide professional design tools for MIUI themes, as well as training materials to help designers improve. We highlight specialized zones in the MIUI theme store to promote the best designs, and we also recommend designs from new designers to create a competitive and fair environment for everyone.

IP is a top priority for Xiaomi, so the MIUI theme store removes themes that are suspected of infringing copyrights as they apear. We also cooperate with global game and app developers, as well as noted cartoon and movie trademark holders to co-develop themes, such as those that feature characters from the Captain America and Transformers movies.

Last year, the most profitable theme earned RMB 820,512 ($121,250). The most popular theme was downloaded 6,442,448 times.

Fast facts about MIUI theme users in 2016

  • 34.81% of MIUI theme consumers are under 24. About 30% are 25-29. About 28% are aged between 30 and 39.
  • The majority of free theme customers were born in the 1980s.
  • Those born in or after 1995 are the main customers of paid themes.
  • Which constellation spent most on MIUI themes? Libra
  • Which constellation spent least on MIUI themes? Aries
  • Which day in a week has the most visitors to MIUI theme store? Saturday
  • Peak hours for MIUI theme store visits? 8 p.m.-11 p.m.

*Currently the MIUI theme store is only available in China, but users can still get many free MIUI themes from our global MIUI ROM.