Xiaomi, a privately owned Chinese smartphone manufacturer, has announced plans to enter ten new countries creating some competition for leading worldwide tech enemies Apple and Samsung. But will the move be enough to compete on the global pedestal?
With its first smartphone — the MI-1 — launched in 2011, Xiaomi has become a major provider in Mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Singapore and is now expanding its reach. By the end of the year the company expects to expand coverage to Russia, India, and Mexico, as well as Brazil, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Turkey.
By avoiding the over-saturated markets of Western Europe and the United States, Xiaomi can develop a global market share as a smartphone provider by targeting emerging tech-savvy nations. One way they can accomplish sales in these budding countries is by offering the same technology at drastically lower prices than the Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy, which have pitted themselves as enemies dominating the global market.
In 2012 Xiaomi released its second smartphone, the MI-2, which sold ten million units in 11 months, according to the company. The newest phone, the MI-3, sold out in two minutes when it hit the shelves in Singapore on March 7.
The MI-3 currently has a price tag of 1,999 Yuan, or about 319 US Dollars, according to Forbes. This is a fraction of the price of the iPhone 5c and Galaxy 5s, which sell in China for Y4488 ($717) and Y5033 ($804) respectively. The availability of high-end technology at such competitive pricing comes at the expense of Xiamoi taking nearly no profit, selling the phones at just above cost.
The MI series phones use a MIUI firmware that is an iOS-like, Google-based Android operating system. Xiaomi VP Hugo Barra, who was formerly Google’s VP for Android, brings his experience and expertise to the table helping the expanding cell phone provider to develop the system and find footing in new regions. The relationship between Google and the Chinese smartphone company is a strong one, according to Barra, which can only help its current expansion and future development.
Barra hopes to establish “brand ambassadors” out of young techies in emerging markets that can vouch for the company, tell their friends and family, and build a reputation for Xiaomi on a worldwide scale.
The MI-3 offers a 5-inch multi-touch IPS display – just smaller than the Galaxy 5s 5.1-inch Super AMOLED display – and runs off a Quad Core 2.3 GHz processor, putting it on the same field as the top performing smartphones on the market. It also has a 13-megapixel rear camera with face and smile detection and FM radio.
The Xaiomi MI-3 comes as a no brainer to consumers who want high-end tech performance for bottom line pricing. It overshadows its competitor – the non-Java, 4-inch display, 1.3 gHz Apple iPhone – in nearly every category other than the nifty piece of fruit on the back.
Alas, as the Chinese phone provider increases its empire around the United States and Western Europe with rock bottom prices, the major markets will continue to pay top dollar for their gadgets until — and if — Xaiomi can stand on the same level to battle big name enemies Apple and Samsung for a supstantial share in the global arena.
By Cody Long