2020 has been a transformative year for Xiaomi in India. Xiaomi focuses on being a premium smartphone manufacturer. The products released by Xiaomi managed to attract the attention of the public.
Looking at Xiaomi’s strategy in India in May 2020, the world, and India in particular, are in the early stages of the ongoing pandemic. It’s hard to imagine how big the impact of COVID-19 will be on the country’s economy. However, Xiaomi managed to increase its market share.
In fact, research firm Canalys reports that Xiaomi maintains a 27% share of the smartphone market in India.
Meanwhile, Counterpoint Research’s report for Q1 2021 stated that Xiaomi continues to hold the leading position, as smartphone shipments in India grew 23% year-on-year to 38 million units. This is, of course, thanks in large part to entry-level smartphones, but Xiaomi is also reaping the benefits of a top tier upgrade.
Xiaomi’s strong market share is currently built on the back of the Redmi 9 series, but also through a strong appearance in the premium mid-range segment with the Mi 10i. It is clear at this point that Xiaomi has mastered the formula for success in the entry-level segment. But there is significant room for growth in the high-end segment.
Build customer trust
Xiaomi’s previous efforts in the high-end segment, especially with the 2016 Mi Mix, did not get many fans. The phone is sold at a low price, and the years that have followed other flagships have not increased confidence in the company’s high-end credentials. In contrast, Xiaomi’s relentless focus on the entry-level market has the side-effect of gaining an entry-level reputation.
In 2020, the Mi 10 is the first high-end Xiaomi phone to come to India in a long time, and Xiaomi is quickly following up with the Mi 10T series. A long overdue return to the company’s affordable level of flagship, Xiaomi will have to rack our brains to fight the OnePlus 8.
Xiaomi continues to issue the Mi 11 series at quite affordable prices. In the premium mid-range segment, the launch of the Mi 11 lineup has strengthened Xiaomi’s commitment. You get the Mi 11x for a total Snapdragon 870, starting at under Rs. 29,999 ($ 410), less than the much more expensive OnePlus 9R.
Then there’s the Mi 11x Pro starting at Rs. 39,999 ($ 550), which again cuts the OnePlus 9 and packs a better camera to boot. And, of course, there’s the Mi 11 Ultra, which also gives you more equipment for your buck than any direct competitor.
Flagships are just one part of the story. From a broader perspective, it’s clear that Xiaomi wants to move its entire portfolio up the price ladder. Take the Redmi Note series, for example, traditionally priced well below Rs. 20,000 ($ 260).
The Redmi Note 10 Pro breaks through that barrier and raises prices for the entire Note 10 series. Customers continue to keep pace with it. The reach for the upper class doesn’t stop at mobile. Xiaomi has been growing and improving, from the Mi Robot Vacuum Cleaner to laptops, and high-end QLED televisions like the 75-inch giant that just launched.
The growing smartphone market
Timing and execution are key, and Xiaomi’s expansion to more premium products has been a long time coming. It’s a good time for Xiaomi to make a move. The entry level segment is full of options in India.
Realme has flooded the market with derivative products under the Realme and Narzo brands. In this environment, Xiaomi only has a lot of room for diversification, and premium components come at a cost.
Moreover, the average selling price of smartphones is indeed slow but definitely rising. In this market, high volume sales with very thin margins can only help you so far. Xiaomi needs to build a foothold in the premium smartphone market to maintain profitability.
Components do matter, but a premium phone isn’t just defined by hardware. Software and support are its hallmarks. As Hadlee recently pointed out, the inconsistency of MIUI across the Xiaomi portfolio can ruin the user experience.
Like, the Mi 11 Ultra scaling issues in the notifications are not as expected from a phone priced at Rs69,999 ($ 950). The fast paced MIUI update rollout usually fixes most bugs, but first impressions matter.
There’s also an update issue. Apple’s four to five years of support is second to none, and Samsung is bridging the gap with three years of support for many of its phones – not just flagships.
The two year update offered by Xiaomi is somewhat lackluster in comparison. Fixing this problem will be key to Xiaomi’s continued growth.
Ecosystem matters, so does innovation
Saying that Xiaomi is not an innovative brand. Experiments such as the Mi Mix Alpha show that companies continue to experiment with big ideas, even if they don’t always get to market. Xiaomi is also part of a select club of companies that have released the Mi Mix Fold fold.
It is equally important to expose these innovations outside of China. When it comes to mobile phones, Xiaomi has done well in India, but this small approach to the new vertical could be careless.
Between robotic vacuum cleaners, laptops, smart speakers and many other gadgets, Xiaomi is not risk-averse. But unless it accelerates their launch in India, it threatens to be trapped by all the other brands boosting their IoT portfolios.
The solid ecosystem creates a point of contact for users to talk about the brand, increasing visibility. Xiaomi’s vast TV portfolio is a great example of how to corner a large part of the Indian smart television market. The latest release, the QLED 75, is sure to make waves and have a broad industry impact.
Even so, it needs more. The vast Xiaomi ecosystem, only partially available in India, is perfectly suited to the country’s growing purchasing power, as well as the company’s premium ambitions.
This is becoming increasingly important in India, where Q2 smartphone sales are expected to drop due to the second wave of the pandemic. Although smartphone sales may be slipping, the surrounding ecosystem has the potential to boost Xiaomi’s revenue.
Xiaomi in 2021: Ready to jump
It took 10 years and many obstacles for Xiaomi to build it all up to now. However, the company couldn’t hold it for now. The manual is easy enough to copy. Indeed, BBK-supported quadfectas from Oppo, Vivo, OnePlus, and Realme are chasing the same prizes and are able to further lower prices by sharing components.
Xiaomi has the momentum for that. To truly go premium in India, all it takes is stable release time, across price segments and, of course, some parts.
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