Xiaomi has taken every brand by storm. Those who do not agree, are the ones who are not much into the online buying or are quite far away from the industry, because it is this Chinese company that has been in the limelight for the past couple of months, with their tactics of selling their phones (to be specific, their second phone Redmi 1s started selling today), and although the numbers are not mind boggling at all, there is one thing to notice – when you set the pricing of a product in the range where you get nothing good from the competitors, you win the game. Some might claim that pricing isn’t the only factor, but majority would agree that it is pricing which comes as the top-on-the-list consideration, especially when purchasing a budget smartphone because that is when one can not think twice before buying a device again because they already paid less earlier. On the other hand, when paying a huge amount for a flagship device, the user is investing for at least a couple of years. There is a major difference.
Xiaomi Redmi 1s, the device we put focus on – has nothing less to speak about because there is everything a smartphone usually would have, yet in the Indian market this comes in a four-digit pricing. The only deal breaker for many here could be – “Xiaomi is a chinese company“. And those “many” that I mention here are the ones who have immense trust in brands such as Samsung, Sony, HTC and Nokia for these being the recognized names in the mobile phone industry since years, and that isn’t anything wrong because Xiaomi although has the pricing at its best for the phones being sold in India, the after-sales service is what they haven’t been able to answer about very clearly. The entry of companies like Xiaomi and its products like the Redmi 1s, is finally good for the consumers who are not even thinking to buy it, but also for those who are in a doubt, there would be nothing disappointing about the device.
Firstly, although Xiaomi is not a company who has done anything in the offline market (where majority of sales happen, especially the rural areas), the pricing set for products will make the other companies rethink about the pricing strategy because these sales give a clear indication that the business is not going to run the same way as it was doing in the past few years.
Pricing is an important factor, after all
[quote align=’left’]Is there a catch? if there was any, then Xiaomi wouldn’t have toppled Samsung to become the largest smartphone seller in China![/quote]Reality check. What gives the users a good experience is the performance of the phone. That is contributed majorly by the processor. Qualcomm, one of the largest major smartphone chipset manufacturer has been providing them to most of the major brands for the flagship devices. Result of that along with few other important inclusions, is that the company set high price for the device. For example, Snapdragon 800 is the SoC used in major smartphones of 2013, such as Samsung Galaxy S4, Sony Xperia Z1 and LG G2. The pricing for these were over Rs. 40,000.
Gionee, another Chinese smartphone manufacturer had entered the Indian market recently and the company’s flagship Gionee Elife E7 came in with the same Snapdragon 800 processor, but the price was around Rs. 26,000. Enough shakes already, because Gionee was one of the most aggressive brands for offline sales because they targeted the distributors and stores directly. Then came Xiaomi, with the pricing of a similarly powered device Xiaomi Mi3 priced exactly half to that of the Gionee’s flagship and one-third to that of the flagship smartphones from the major brands. Is there a catch? if there was any, then Xiaomi wouldn’t have toppled Samsung to become the largest smartphone seller in China (according to a report by Canalys).
Is trusting Tier 1 brands enough?
There are some arguing already on the most favorite social networks that Xiaomi’s Mi3 isn’t good with the camera and similar is the case with the body of the device where there were issues with SIM tray reported. But which smartphone is perfect? the Samsung Galaxy S5 had the USB port door so delicate that it came off within three months after purchasing the phone. In the end, how much did we pay and what for did we? the MicroUSB port door was for protection against water entry, and that ensured the IP67 certification rating of the device. Now with that gone, is the device water resistant? that water resistance was one of the main USPs for the Galaxy S5, isn’t it? If you think Sony has better devices, there is one major issue – heating up! Most of the devices heat up after continuous usage / gaming but Samsung’s glassy body makes it a hot cake taken just out of oven! The point is – every device has its own good or bad. No company has the best product out there. Pricing has been one major area where the major players held all control on, but now that seems to change a bit.
Some other good brands to check out, apart from Xiaomi and Gionee – OnePlus, Oppo and Meizu.
[quote align=’right’]The point is – every device has its own good or bad. No company has the best product out there.[/quote]Micromax was earlier a company that brought devices with similar concept – high on specs, low on price. But that scenario slowly begun changing, because the smartphones now aren’t priced in the similar way, because in the segment where Micromax was holding an authority, there was no serious competition. Now there is, and thus, the Indian brand which actually never manufactured devices but just imported the Chinese ones (which frankly for me were never any impressive) would be feeling more heat from Xiaomi than Samsung and other Tier 1 brands. At this point, Micromax will now look for more quality than quantity, or will reduce the prices of their smartphones even further, making this a win-win for the consumers.
Apart from pricing, performance and physical aspect, another major factor is the user experience, which can be made better by tweaking the user interface. Samsung has its own super laggy Touchwiz UI, which they seem to resist with, although half of the world keep complaining about it. Most others have their own interfaces and just a few prefer the Stock UI of Android in their devices. Xiaomi has made a beautiful MIUI ROM for its Android devices, and MIUI has been widely appreciated but that all was accompanied by the talk that Xiaomi has ripped off Apple in not just the phone designs but also with the interface.
Who copies whom? should the user really care about that?
There are two things here – external appearance of the phone, and the user interface. Appearance wise, I agree Xiaomi has taken inspiration from Apple in making its recent Mi4 (check Xiaomi Mi4 hands-on for my thoughts), because the appearance, speaker grill and edges were all looking quite similar and in some angles, one would easily be confused on which device it is. Then comes the user interface. Digging into this, it was MIUI which came out first and if you are a follower of the tech industry since years, you would notice how Apple has taken many things from MIUI in the design. BUT, do the end user need to worry and think about “who copied whom?” and take sides? It is the user experience that is important. For me, MIUI is far better than Apple’s iOS – simply because although they look similar, Apple still doesn’t have a home screen to hold widgets (which is quite important) and although MIUI does not come with the app drawer, the home screen with apps directly listed there, takes in any number of widgets to let the users tweak the home screen as they wish.
No brand is best, no phone is perfect
[quote align=’left’]Xiaomi has surely given a “working out” factor for many – “Pricing”[/quote]So, it is better to think it in a broader way and welcome a new brand, which would not just give you some better options but also would play the game in pricing strategy for the smartphone companies. None of the smartphones out there in the market are perfect. There are issues with each, in one or the other way. It is for the end user to choose the one which perfectly works out for them, and Xiaomi has surely given a “working out” factor for many – pricing.
Only if Xiaomi does something in the stock handling and selling in the near future, the company will see a good future in India. This is a very huge market, thus important limited number of devices won’t work out in the long run. For now, still, Xiaomi has created ripples in the Indian smartphone market. Well played.