The fast-rising Chinese mobile company Xiaomi will launch its popular flagship handset, Mi 4, in the last week of January in India.
According to officials of Xiaomi, which had a sharp opening in India in 2014 with Mi 3 and three other models, the launch is part of its ambitious India plans including the opening of Xiaomi’s first research and development (R&D) facility outside China in Bangalore this year.
Xiaomi officials were interacting with journalists after company chairman, Lei Jun unveiled two new phones – Mi Note and Mi Note Pro – which he said were “lighter, thinner and cheaper” than the recently released Apple’s iPhone6 and iPhone6 Plus.
The two new Xiaomi phones are priced at RMB 2299 (app Rs 23000) and RMB 3299 (app Rs 33000).
Lei touched upon the touch issue of patents during his presentation at the tightly packed China National Convention Centre.
“Xiaomi is an innovative company with a short history…In 10 years, we will have tens of thousands of patents,” Lei said.
Talking about the company’s India plans, Hugo Barra, vice-president, Xiaomi Global, said the Chinese company also has plans to open around 100 customer service centres across India and working with local start-ups to develop and localise its mobile phones for the Indian market.
The price of the Mi 4 is yet to be decided but it is likely to be the same as in China; the Indian equivalent of the cost will be between Rs 20000 and Rs 25000.
“I believe the Indian market is the most important market (for the company) outside Mainland China…It could become our most important market,” Barra said.
On the issue of patent problems in India, Barra said that the strategy of the company – called the ‘Apple of China’ and accused of copying the American company’s style -- was about developing technology.
About the controversy about the Indian Air Force (IAF) advising its personnel about not using Xiaomi products, Xiaomi’s India head, Manu Jain said the IAF never directly approached the company. Jain said it was only through the media that they had learnt about the issue.
Jain added that by the end of 2014, the company had sold more than a million phones in India
Jain said the company has approximately a 1.5 percent market share in the 80 million smart phone market in India.
Barra added that the company will start selling its products through company’s own online platform – like it does in China – this year. It’s partnership with online marketing companies like Flipkart will, however, continue.