One Android brand that is creating quite a stir lately is Xiaomi. This Chinese company which was founded in 2010 is now the 4th largest brand in China, one contributing factor to this is that it has consistently sold out its products as soon as they are released in the market. What makes the company’s products appealing to customers is that it they are sold at a low price yet the specs are that of an expensive phone. The company’s products are known for its high quality which is why they are also known as the “Apple of China.”
In a recent South East Asian tour Xiaomi’s Global VP Hugo Barra announced the company’s plan to enter the North American market. “We will start working on North America next year… It’s in the pipeline.” When asked to elaborate further he explained that the North American market is very challenging and competitive which is why they want to carefully plan for their entry. Right now the company is busy expanding to 10 markets namely Malaysia, Indonesia, India, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Russia, Turkey, Brazil, and Mexico. These countries are an addition to its current market namely China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore.
The company is very cautious in its move for expansion even if customers from other markets are interested in getting their products. In the North American market for example established brands such as Sony and HTC are finding it hard to compete against the likes of Samsung and Apple. Consumers in North America are also used to buying subsidized smartphones which means that they could get flagship devices for a mere $200. The lower cost of Xiaomi devices coupled with its high-end specs could be its formula to success in this market. Hugo added that “I believe in the future, people will be less and less tolerant to unnecessarily overpriced devices.”
Chinese brands are often perceived as low quality brands by western consumers. Who could blame them? The market is often filled with cheap knock offs or unknown brands made in China that consumers looking for quality devices will almost instantly avoid these products. Hugo says that they can change this perception once he is given the chance to show of the company’s products. “I’ve worked with Android for many years and I’ve always been impressed by the UI. I think the quality of the software (running) in the hardware is probably one of the most important things. I believe that the quality of our software experience is superior to anything you see on the market.”
One advantage that Xiaomi smartphones have over the competition is that its custom Android version called MIUI OS gets updated regularly. This is what Google is doing on its Nexus devices and this is what Xiaomi is also doing for its products. Hugo added that if a consumer buys a Xiaomi smartphone, one year down the road the device will be better since it will be getting the latest software updates.
Next year is going to be an exciting year for Xiaomi as they enter one of the most challenging markets in the world.