Xiaomi wants to sell high-end smartphones and TVs in India

The Chinese company is seen as a budget brand, but it wants to move upmarket in India to compete with the likes of Samsung, Oppo, and Vivo.

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China’s Xiaomi Corp is shedding its image as a budget brand by widening its India product portfolio to include pricier, high-spec smartphones, and smart TVs, a senior company executive said on Monday.

Founded by Lei Jun in 2010, Xiaomi prides itself on its “ecosystem” strategy — selling not just smartphones but also a variety of gadgets and household products. It began expanding into western Europe in 2017.

Xiaomi, which began selling devices in India in 2014, has outflanked South Korea’s Samsung Electronics as India’s top smartphone player, according to tech research firm Counterpoint.

The Beijing-headquartered company’s devices, typically become instant sellers on e-commerce websites and top sales in the up to USD 250 price-segment.

But Xiaomi’s more expensive smartphones face stiffer competition from Samsung and Chinese rivals Oppo and Vivo. And technology analysts say it is seen as a cheap or budget brand by customers.

Oppo is a Chinese smartphone maker that grew rapidly via offline sales in China’s lower-tier cities and rural areas, with budget phones that appeal to young users. Recently, it’s started releasing high-end flagships.

Xiaomi has tried to change that by launching phones with high-end processors and cameras, priced above 20,000 rupees (USD 280).

“We are inching up in the entire ASP (average selling price) curve,” Muralikrishnan B, the Chief Operating Officer of Xiaomi’s India unit told Reuters. “There is acceptance coming in at the higher end of the price band and in our definition higher end is now 30,000 (rupees).”

Xiaomi’s range of smart TVs, priced from 11,999 to 54,999 rupees (USD 168 to 772), and other internet-enabled products have also helped bolster its smartphones sales and brand image.

“There are various ways in which you make inroads into the consumers psyche, into their home and help one category grow from the other,” Muralikrishnan said.

Xiaomi, which sells the bulk of its smartphones online, is also expanding its retail network in India: it will open 10,000 stores in the country by mid-2020 from over 6,000 stores currently.

It also plans to soon launch a consumer lending business in India, its biggest market outside of China.

On Wednesday, Xiaomi unveiled two new phone models and a new version of their operating system, based on Google’s Android mobile platform.

This article first appeared in Abacus News.