Chinese technology company Xiaomi is starting the year 2020 with a renewed focus on its Mi sub-brand and intends to launch products across categories including the ultra-premium smartphones and Mi Home portfolio. Until now, the focus had been on the Redmi series, which has helped the company garner popularity as well as the market share in the Indian market.
"Post 2017 we've not launched anything in the Mi smartphone portfolio, except the Mi A-series that has continued from 2017 to 2019. A large part of our business has been built on the Redmi portfolio whereas Mi has been conspicuously absent," says Raghu Reddy, Head of Categories, Xiaomi India.
Between 2017 and now, from the market standpoint, Rs 6,000 to Rs 25,000 segment is where the 95 per cent market used to be. And for Xiaomi to win, the company was focussing a lot more in that particular segment with its Redmi series. But with consumers upgrading their smartphones, the tendency has been to move upwards with every new iteration. There has been an increase in the market for devices in the range of Rs 20,000-25,000. It used to comprise about 4-5 per cent market share in 2017 that went to about 7-8 per cent in 2018 and hopefully in 2019 it should be a little more than 10 to 12 per cent.
"We believe that the market is now significantly bigger than what it was two or three years ago for us to start treating it as big enough opportunity to go after. From the organisation's standpoint, we are a lot more stable and organised in 2020, as compared to 2017. Going into 2020, we are organising ourselves the way we are organised in China, where there is a distinct focus on Redmi and Mi as sub brands. So, with 2020, you will see us getting into the market with more of premium flagship devices in India," adds Reddy.
As the company focusses on Mi sub-brand, a whole bunch of premium flagship devices will make their way into India. This will not just be restricted to the phone side but across the ecosystem products that Xiaomi has. To start with, Xiaomi has showcased the Mi Mix Alpha in India, the company's concept phone, which has a surround display extending from front to back. The front of the Alpha is all screen with the top and bottom bezels at just 2.15mm. The side frames are also replaced by the display that can be used to show the necessary information. Physical buttons are replaced with pressure-sensitive virtual side buttons for interaction. Xiaomi says that the sides are pressure-sensitive and leverage a linear motor to simulate the touch of real buttons, allowing to lock the screen and adjust volume. Even the back of the phone is covered by a display, and in the future, it will be able to perform real-time AI scenario detection.
"It's been a momentous five-year journey. In 2014, we started well and hit a bit of a speed bump in 2015, and then 2016 onwards, things started picking up. Since Q3 of 2017, we've been the number one smartphone brand, and that has continued for about nine quarters now and hopefully, the last quarter of 2019 should also help us be there. A large part of those numbers has happened due to the Redmi portfolio," adds Reddy.
Expanding beyond smartphones into ecosystem products such as air purifiers, security camera, smart water purifier and smart lighting, Xiaomi started as an online-only brand in the country. In 2017, Xiaomi didn't have any kind of offline presence, which has now grown significantly with the company having distribution presence across most cities in the country.