The new flagship smartphone from Xiaomi, the Mi4 was launched a few days ago to much fanfare, adulation, and even a little controversy. The Mi4 looks to be a real contender in the high-end device segment with high-end specs and a design that reeks of quality. Several of the features that we were hoping to see did not arrive however – there was no new processor from Qualcomm, no Quad HD display, and also no metallic uni-body chassis. However, that did not stop the marketing department from having their moment with a host of images that show how the metal frame of the device was created. Good marketing, or yet more blatant imitation?
So what is going on with all the metal? The Mi4 does not actually look very metallic. Rumor fueled hope can be a dangerous thing, so when the device was finally unveiled this week, the plastic finish did not exactly set the world afire. Early images that were circulated prior to launch indicated a metal finish and we were hoping to see a solid uni-body design perhaps of the same ilk as the HTC One. These rumors were dashed however when Xiaomi VP, Li Wang Qiang told commented publicly that although the Mi4 uses plenty of metal, it was not actually used on the devices’ back cover.
“The new product is indeed uses a lot of metal, but not for the purpose of metal back cover.”
Despite all the hype and conjecture, the Mi4 arrived looking very stylish and well built, but without any hint of a truly metallic body. That didn’t stop the Xiaomi marketing machine focusing heavily on the role that metal played in the devices’ construction however, releasing a slew of marketing images that show step by step how the chassis, or at least its frame was created. Check out the images below.
But wait, haven’t we seen this before? In terms of pure marketing I think Xiaomi are actually punching above their weight, but there is little doubt as to the inspiration for the company’s marketing – Apple of course. Sascha hit the nail squarely on the head yesterday when he wrote about Apple themselves not being where the company they are today if were not for their ability to capture the ideas of others and improve upon them. Notice I said all that without using the words copy, or cat.
Hugo Barra might have lost his patience with allegations of blatant imitation, but to be absolutely fair, Apple cannot claim to have invented everything. If we look at the marketing going on with the metal chassis, its very similar to what we have seen from other manufacturers, including cars, electrical appliances and other products. The concept is simple – De-mystify the actual manufacturing process and show step by step how you are using the latest technology (in this case CNC Metal milling) to create your product.
Xiaomi may not win any awards for originality of its marketing, but for a fairly small Chinese company, they represent a very forward thinking entity that dares to ‘Think Different’ – even if their inspiration is all too obvious. They are selling smartphones and tablets as quick as they can manufacture them while establishing a global brand name and a reputation for producing great devices that sell for extremely low prices. Here at Mobile Geeks we are huge fans of the company and their products. We are also willing to give them a pass when their marketing is somewhat less than inspirational.