“India is an important market for us,” announced a rather emotional Hugo Barra at the end of a glitzy, power-packed launch event for Xiaomi’s new Redmi Note 3 in India.
The Vice-President of International for Xiaomi had by then introduced the new Redmi Note 3 at the Talkatora stadium, full of cheering ‘Mi’ fans dressed in orange and white shirts, and partners including heads of Qualcomm and Hungama. But the event was not over.
“Questions were being raised about us. Some asked if the Mi India story was over. We want to say that the Mi India story is very much alive. Mi India has not lost it’s magic,” said Barra, sitting on the edge of the stage.
As if to reconfirm this commitment, Barra also announced that India will be one of the first markets to get the new, premium Xiaomi Mi 5, which was showcased in Barcelona just last week, and went on sale in China two days ago.
“We’re bringing the Mi 5 to India within a month of the China launch,” said the Xiaomi VP reassuring the Mi 5 fans in the audience, and those who were watching the announcement live on their webcast that they had not given up on the Indian market.
On the other hand, Redmi Note 3, which is priced at Rs 9,999 for the 16GB version and Rs 11,999 for the 32GB version, has taken a few months coming to India. However, the phone is coming here with a different processor and is made at the Visakhapatnam facility of the company. Redmin Note 3 is the third Made in India smartphone from the company.
For Xiaomi, India matters simply because it can offer the next level of growth, especially in the smartphone business, unlike China where analysts say growth has all but stagnated. However, forced by litigation on its phones powered by MediaTek processors, the company arms to have paused launches for a few months to get in India-specific versions with Qualcomm processors. Ericsson claims Xiaomi does not have the right to sell MediaTek chipset devices which use its technology at many levels.
Xiaomi has also indicated plans to ramp up its e-commerce operations in India. The new Redmi Note 3 is initially Amazon and Mi.com exclusive and will not be available on Flipkart, the original online partner of the company. It will come to all online portals as well as offline soon after. Last year, the company launched an exclusive Diwali sale on its Mi.com India portal and claims that its app saw over 3 million installs during the sales period.
With Xiaomi, while smartphones grab the most media attention, the company has a much wider portfolio of products in India. The Mi TV is one such product, although in an earlier interaction with Indianexpress.com Xiaomi’s India Manu Jain has said 2016 was unlikely to be the year the TV would hit India.
Xiaomi also offers a range of accessories like PowerBanks, a Mi Bluetooth Speaker, which was also announced at the today’s event, and now has a stake in Segway as well after Ninebot acquired it. (Xiaomi has a majority stake in Ninebot).