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Circuit Breaker

Xiaomi takes over Meitu hardware business to sell more selfie-focused smartphones

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Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Chinese selfie app and smartphone maker Meitu has announced that Xiaomi is effectively taking over its hardware business. Future phones will carry the Meitu brand, but Xiaomi will be responsible for design, R&D, and sales, while Meitu will still be involved in camera software. Basically, it’s a safe bet that Xiaomi’s Mi Home stores across the world will start carrying a bunch of wild selfie-focused cameraphones in the near future.

As for why this deal is taking place, Meitu says its “mission is ‘to inspire more people to express their beauty,’ and the board believes that entering into this Strategic Cooperation Agreement will accelerate our pace in carrying out this mission.” Meitu isn’t a major smartphone player by any means — it’s only sold 3.5 million handsets in the five years its hardware business has been around — and has identified Xiaomi as the “perfect partner” to help increase its growth.

Xiaomi will initially pay a percentage of phone profits to Meitu, moving to flat per-phone licensing fees after five years or when a certain number of units have been sold overall. Meitu also says that the deal will allow it to focus on expanding its social network user base through pre-installations, though it’s unclear whether that would apply to Xiaomi-branded phones as well.

The Verge’s Ashley Carman tried out the Meitu T8 phone last year, though the company’s most notable Western exposure to date came when its beautification selfie app hit a burst of popularity before sparking ad-tracking and privacy fears. Also it released a Sailor Moon Pretty Soldier Edition of the T8 with a matching selfie stick, so there’s that.