As anyone who follows smartphone news can tell you, Xiaomi is one of the largest Android device makers in the world. It's strongest in China, both in terms of hardware sales and content deals (video, music, ebook, apps) with media companies, but that is slowly beginning to change.
The Boston-based ebook distribution and discovery startup Trajectory has inked deals with Macmillan, MIT Press, and Gardners Books to distribute their ebooks to Xiaomi's ebookstore.
According to IDC estimates, Xiaomi produced approximately 36 million phones in the second half of 2014. They didn't make the top 5 smartphone makers for the year, so I don't have specifics on their total annual production, but I do know that Xiaomi's sales are growing by leaps and bounds.
Edit: Xiaomi said they sold 61 million smartphones last year.
And that makes Xiaomi especially interested in selling more ebooks.
In addition to distributing the ebooks, Trajectory will also be taking on the responsibility of running these publishers' English language ebooks through Trajectory's Natural Language Processing Engine to generate keywords to help Chinese readers better identify and locate books of interest.
Trajectory got a lot of press earlier this year for its book discovery engine, and its current contracts with Macmillan, MIT Press, and Gardners Books (as well as last month's contract to bring Tencent Literature's Chinese language ebooks to the US) are directly related to that work.
Like the much more public and showy Booklamp (now an Apple sub), Trajectory uses natural language processing algorithms to Intuit new meaning from the texts.
According to Trajectory CEO James Bryant, the company will "receive Macmillan's catalog, and we'll process it through the NLP algorithmic analysis to generate enhanced metadata." The new metadata will include keywords in English, Chinese, and other languages.
The ebooks will then be passed on to Xiaomi and to other retailers selected by the respective publishers. The deal with MIT Press, for example, will cover Xiaomi and the Chinese market, but that is just the beginning. According to Bryant, the MIT Press contract involves more international markets involved than just China.
Bryant was also intrigued by the partnership with the UK distributor Gardner Books. "The conversation with Gardners is really unique," he said, "because it potentially adds hundreds of thousands of titles to the mix."