Xiaomi, the harbinger of fans or the so called fan festival in India, didn’t have the last laugh on Thursday at its Mi Max launch as followers of the brand crashed into the venue and started shouting slogans against the brand and its face — the company vice president Hugo Barra.
The launch saw maximum turnout, a habit that the company has been encouraging to boost popularity and sales of its products at every event, with more Mi fans arriving at the venue than seats available. The company has been luring fans to their events with free goodies like t-shirts to show that their brand following was more than rivals like Asus, Vivo and Honor who by the way have all tried the same approach. And Thursday’s incident just goes to show that one day it would have spun out of control.
Xiaomi received 50,000 registrations from their MIUI community to attend the Mi Max and MIUI 8 launch. Instead of sending out the exact number of invites as the space available, Xiaomi sent out more, anticipating last minute dropouts. Which did not happen.
With the heat outside getting beyond bearable, fans who had been waiting for their goodie-bags and t-shirts, were told that the venue had reached its maximum capacity and so, they had to leave without attending the event. Not everyone took the lack of hospitality in the right spirit.- -Some of them made their way inside and began chanting slogans against the Chinese smartphone maker.
"We didn't think all of you will come," says Xiaomi's Manu Jain, clearly forgetting the pull of freebies. Some Mi 'fans' hooting and booing.— Kunal Dua (@duak) June 30, 2016
The commotion started when a sizeable crowd entered the venue and at the top of their voice, made their dissapointment known. Eventually, the company’s India head, Manu Jain intervened and after two hours of negotiations, managed to pacify the crowd angry for being turned away without any goodies and t-shirts with just a promise that the due will be mailed to their homes.He even suggested that the other fans give away their t-shirts to the protestors if that’s all they had come for. He welcomed those who wanted to attend the event to stay and take seat available or adjust themselves on the stairs.
Finally, the police got involved as the venue was beyond capacity and after discussing the problem with the organizers, decided to let the presentation get on its way. When Huga Barra, Xiaomi’s vice president finally got to start his presentation, he wasted no time in introducing MIUI 8.
However, the fans strategy is not all show. With a large following of power users, the company has managed to do more beta testing than any other phone maker selling smartphones in the country. And a global userbase of 200 million, makes Xiaomi one of the most popular ROMs after Stock Android.
So perhaps there is a lesson to be learnt here and it might just be the case of Xiaomi underestimating the engagement it has with Indian customers. Simply put, companies should be careful about inculcating habits which are difficult to maintain. Which makes you wonder if Xiaomi with ambitions of having a following like Apple has bitten off more than it can chew.