Xiaomi just announced the launch of the very popular and fast selling Xiaomi Mi3 smartphone in India. As yet details are slim, except that we know the device will retail for a super aggressive Rs.14,999 ($250 USD), totally in keeping with the Chinese company’s strategy of selling top hardware for rock bottom prices. Mobile Geeks consider what this means to the existing players in India, including some of the heavyweight players:
Xiaomi’s recent Mi3 launch in India was expected, as the aggressive Chinese smartphone manufacturer makes its way across the globe, in a Westerly direction from its native China where it currently commands a healthy market share of over 6% (based on numbers for Q4 2013). Xiaomi first crept across the Great Wall to neighboring Hong Kong back in April of last year armed with the Mi2S. This was followed up with moves in to our back yard here in Taiwan, followed by Singapore just a few months ago.
Analysts claim that Xiaomi has already claimed 3% of the Taiwan market and its really not hard to how they have achieved this, with a first roll-out through 2nd tier Taiwanese carrier Far Eastone, followed by a deal with the country’s largest and most influencial telecom, Chunghwa Telecom back in February of this year. Back then, a Xiaomi Mi3, the company’s flagship 5 inch smartphone, pounced on the Taiwan market at a price of NT9,999 ($335), it was subsequently dropped to NT8,000 ($266) but the Mi3 can now be found at a local e-retailer for NT7,000 ($233).
It sounds odd, but it really just dawned on me how successful Xiaomi have have been. Last weekend at a social event here in Taipei, there was a little confusion as three of us were using Xiaomi Mi3 smartphones. Seeing they were all the more popular black version. I have used the Mi3 as my go to phone – i.e. the one i use when I am not reviewing another device. I have actively recommended the device to several friends who have subsequently been recommending it to others.
The damn thing either has built-in voodoo vibes, or it is just quite simply one of the most attractive smartphones on the market. I am inclined towards the latter; take in the 1080p Full HD IPS LCD display, the awesome performance of a Snapdragon 800 processor with a healthy 2GB of RAM plus a totally decent 13MP camera and you’re thinking… is this not true flagship territory? It’s light at 145 grams and thin at 8.1mm. The 3050mAh battery is solid and the MIUI software experience is a joy to use.
I think I just caught myself evangelizing again, but forgive me. This is effect the Xiaomi Mi3 has on the unsuspecting user. It has had me in its back pocket since the day it arrived.
Breaking in to India is no easy task, as the country’s affluent and well educated youth is well supplied with Galaxy S5, Xperia Z2 and HTC One smartphones and other high-end devices. The big players are already making solid returns in India, tapping a country with incredible reserves of potential new customers, with many more coming in to play in the next few years. There is also no shortage of good quality handsets from lesser-known mid tier vendors like Karbonn and Micromax, who have built solid reputations based on quality ODM designs from Chinese manufacturers like Oppo and Gionee.
Some commentators have made the argument that Xiaomi will have it best chance of success in the mid-tier markets where the Mi3 will outshine the competition in sheer specs, offering higher grade components at the same price points. It’s a valid view, and one that I largely agree with. But still think that although players like Samsung will have the marketing resources to maintain a position of No.1 smartphone brand globally, and reap the benefits that the position enjoys, even the mighty Korean powerhouse that is Samsung will feel that Xiaomi is tampering with its strategy. A spanner in the cogs of a global machine.
The Xiaomi Mi3 will retail in India for Rs.14,999 ($250), meaning that it will be cheaper than several other smartphones that have inferior specs. It will also be vastly cheaper than phones like the Galaxy S5 that have similar specs. Thusly the disruptive force of Xiaomi will be felt at all segments of the smartphone market in India, including even Samsung who I predict may never again enjoy smartphone margins like it has with the current $700 Galaxy S5.
At the very least, the top, top players will now have to really work hard to command those kinds of prices once again as Xiaomi continues its march of disruption across the globe.