Shashwat Pradhan Shashwat Pradhan

Xiaomi, not another brick in the wall

Last year Xiaomi sold 75m phones. Even though there are many others out there like OnePlus, Gionee, Micromax and Wiko; Xiaomi is not just a small OEM with its own branding and distribution model. With the MIUI 6 we see Xiaomi being able to distinguish itself from the others in the design space. This brings us back to the PC era, just things happening much faster now and more innovation happening in terms of design .

As we focus on Instant at Emberify, building it as a lifelogging(Quantified Self) platform on Android, I switched up to the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4G from the iPhone 6 Plus for the MWC. Comparing the two may seem unfair since the Xiaomi is one sixth the price, but I couldn’t help myself from seeing them at a similar level.

Putting it straight forward, no body can compare with the iPhone’s sleek aluminium body or its magnificent camera. On the other hand the Xiaomi is so well priced, for about $150 you can’t go wrong with this. We can see Xiaomi has done a great job on MIUI 6 and its eCommerce marketing, here in India with Flipkart.

So Chinese phones & tablets based on Android have been selling throughout the world from the last 7-8 years. These devices were cheap too, but they were kind of handicapped on overall quality. Both with Software and Hardware. Xiaomi has managed to nail both these things really well.

In terms of software, the MIUI 6 offers a great interface which is pretty good in terms of competition with stock Android. Although it introduces fragmentation in terms of interface with Google’s new material design, but that is pretty much an inherent property of Android. But as an OEM Xiaomi has done a great job since they can only experiment a limited amount outside Google’s lock which is needed to have Google services on the device. I like the default apps for their thoughtfulness and moments of charm. The hardware on the other hand is top class backed with great specs and a solid body. Although nothing can compete with the iPhone’s build quality, most of us use cases which take away the sleek feel of the iPhone. Overall things are working great for me with the Xiaomi so far, not missing the iPhone too much. 

What interests me in Xiaomi is that this $10B company is not only building sleek phones and taking away Samsung’s cake but also their keen interest to explore other areas of technology. The Mi Band seems like a great wearable device too. Just wish that all services on Android could me more integrated, syncing in data to Google Fit. But again this is Android’s inherent problem maybe due to its open nature. Also they recently launched the Yi Camera to compete with Go Pro. They even have the MiTV, an air purifier and headphones. Basically I see them exploiting their ability to manufacture electronics at low prices being located in China.

Overall I can’t wait for Xiaomi to ramp up their production, so they can reach the global audience. I really like how they’ve dominated the Chinese market and finally there’s a dominant app store out there. This reminded me of my conclusions on the Shanghai technology landscape. We’re looking forward to getting Instant on Xiaomi’s Mi Market too. 

At the end of it, its going to be a race for scaling the manufacturing and global distribution which is going to make 2015 interesting for Xiaomi and the other Chinese manufacturers as well.

(Image credits App Annie Blog)

  • Shivam Vahia

    But we also cannot forget that Xiaomi is a company with no ‘Long Term Vision’. They just make up devices with High-End Hardware and sell it at a very cheap price. Yes, They have invested in MIUI, But is a Launcher really part of R&D?

    Companies like Microsoft, Apple, Sony, BlackBerry…. Rely on their Burj Khalifa of Patents, Technology and Development. They spend Billions on this, and even though it looks like they are Idiots to that, It is what makes them a Pioneer and a long term Leader.
    They invent stuff, While the Chinese (No National Offense Intended) open up that stuff, know the technicality’s and tadah, A cheaper version is born!

    • Shashwat Pradhan

      Shivam but maybe its not always about patents. Theyve got a really successful OEM and distribution model which is winning over consumers. Maybe its different but nothing is wrong with that.

    • Elon Stew

      Nice analysis 🙂