To say that Xiaomi with its MI3 has managed to take the Indian mobile phone market by storm would be an understatement. Never in the past has India seen the kind of frenzied interest that an obscure, Chinese phone maker (for most Indians, that is) has managed to generate – in the matter of a few weeks time. India has never had a history of people actually lining up to buy phones, or any other gadget for that matter. Even when the iPhone variants are launched here, this is known to be a country which is known to be quite leisurely in its demeanor. No lines, no mad rush, no nothing.
With the Xiaomi MI3 though, everything changed.
On the first day of the sale three weeks ago, Flipkart, the exclusive online retailer selling the Xiaomi MI3 crashed. The first sale lasted a tad under 40 minutes. The second? Two seconds – the recent third and fourth sales ended in less than three seconds. And why not? For a very affordable price of Rs.13,999 ($230) people were being sold a phone with specifications that could only be seen on a device that would cost at least Rs.10,000 ($164) more.
Earlier this year, Motorola, a manufacturer that had once stopped selling handsets in India made a grand comeback to India with the launch of its Moto G. The two versions of the phones priced nominally were lapped up by Indians at ferocious rates. Motorola repeated the feat with its ultra-affordable Android 4.4 toting handset, the Moto E with similar results. Unlike Xiaomi though, people need not rush in to buy these phones as they were available at all times on the site and went out of stock occasionally. With the arrival of Xiaomi though, everyone seems to have forgotten about Motorola – so much so, the former Google owned company had to lower the price of the Moto G by Rs. 2000 to attract new buyers. Also, the Moto G with its Snapdragon 400 chip was hardly a match to the more powerful, Snapdragon 800 toting Xiaomi MI3.
Xiaomi, which has not spent a penny on advertising or marketing its sales in India, only uses the power of social media to market its phones. This is the same model that it uses to sell phones in its home market, China. Pricing might be Xiaomi’s biggest advantage here but the company needs to remember that there are other formidable Chinese brands in India now – including the likes of Gionee and One Plus. The former has been on a roll with its E7 which has received rave reviews for its performance and awesome camera. Seeing the success of the MI3 in India, it would be prudent to imagine that Gionee would be pricing its phones very aggressively in the months to come. Not to mention, the challenges posed by India’s homegrown phone makers like Micromax, Xolo and Karbonn.
Xiaomi might have had a dream run in India thus far. However, the company needs to so something drastic to ensure that the grievances of many of its potential customers, (some of whom have been trying unsuccessfully to buy the phone for weeks) need to be addressed with priority. The number of people who remain unsatisfied at being not being able to buy the phone seems to be on the rise and their rants are for everyone to see on the official Facebook page of Xiaomi India. While there is no doubt about the fact that Xiaomi has made a huge impact on the psyche of the general smartphone buyer in India, the company needs to do a lot more to make sure that its highly successful model of weekly sales doesn’t turn in to its biggest Achilles heel.