Xiaomi India eyes growth beyond smartphones

Xiaomi India eyes growth beyond smartphones

Xiaomi recently announced plans to invest $1 billion in India to expand its business and also bring a large number of its global Tier-I suppliers as part of efforts to increase local content in its products.

In just four years of its entry into the Indian market, the Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi has become the number one player in entry-level and mid-range phones market. With 30% market share in the third quarter, it overtook the long-standing market leader South Korean technology major Samsung. With this feat, its goal is half achieved. The company’s long-term goal is to become a complete lifestyle products brand in the fast-growing Indian market.

According to Canalys Smartphone Analysis, Xiaomi sold 12.1 million smartphones in Q3 2018, a growth of 31.5% over the same period last year. Its market share stood at 29.8%, while Samsung accounted for a 23% share with a total sale of 9.3 million smartphones.

Xiaomi, which entered India through an online-only format in 2014 for smartphones, is already selling a variety of daily-use products in India that includes smartphones, accessories, backpacks, apparels, pillows, home security cameras, and air purifiers. It is also a popular brand in the wearable devices category that includes Mi bands (health or activity trackers), electronic accessories like power banks, routers and 4k television sets.

Xiaomi recently announced plans to invest $1 billion in India to expand its business and also bring a large number of its global Tier-I suppliers as part of efforts to increase local content in its products.

“We are much more than a smartphone company. We are the world’s largest IOT (Internet of Things) company with 150 million connected devices (excluding smartphones and laptops). Our aim is to launch washing machines, heater, scooter, TV, and a bunch of products connected to the Internet,” says Manu Jain, Managing Director, Xiaomi India.

It is working with more than 200 companies. The software and design are provided by Xiaomi and the vendors supply hardware. “In India, we have invested in startups in software space. that is our core strength,” Jain says.

Spreading the reach

Having established its name in the online market, the company is now set on a rapid expansion with bigger plans for offline expansion. With 43 offline stores across key cities, Xiaomi is aiming to expand the network to over 100 stores in the next year. It is already a number one brand in 40 out of 43 cities it is present.

The aggressive pricing strategy and attractive features in its smartphones have made Xiaomi grow from zero to a market leading position in just four years. 

It shipped more than 12 million smartphones in India in the third quarter, growing by 32% on a yearly basis. For the fourth successive quarter, Xiaomi has taken the pole position in the Indian market.

According to Liu Xingliang, head of the DCCI Internet Research Institute, Xiaomi’s localisation strategies, such as adding tailored designs for local consumers in their products, as well as doing local promotion, work well in India. However, experts attribute the success to relatively cheap prices.

Lifestyle products

Xiaomi launched a slew of non-smartphone lifestyle products in recent days. This includes pens, T-shirts, luggage, backpacks, U-shaped pillows, home security cameras, and air purifiers. These are in addition to Mi bands, power banks, chargers, earphones, cables, and 4k colour television sets.

“You may ask why are we selling luggage? Think of our products. The centre of our products is smartphones. This is the first hardware product. Our aim is to make IoT devices. Products like Mi Band, water purifier and air purifier are connected to the internet and controlled by smartphones,” Jain says.

The company’s philosophy is to make good quality products with great specs and sell at an honest price. “For example, a good Samsonite suitcase (24 inches) sells at Rs 11,000 and Rs 8,000 for 20 inches, while American Tourister sells at Rs 9,000. We are selling our suitcase at Rs 4,300, which is on par with any other international brand in quality,” Jain states.

Going forward, Xiaomi plans to introduce more diverse products in India as it builds affinity towards its products among Indian customers. The company has opened an experience centre at its corporate office in Bengaluru, where it has displayed a wide variety of products.

Local sourcing

Xiaomi has also started sourcing components for its smartphones in India. For example, the printed circuit board (PCB), which accounts for 50% of any phone, used in all its phones are sourced in India.

However, some of the components used for making PCBs are sourced from abroad. It is still in the process of ramping up the PCB production.

The company is committed to Make in India. Its first factory went live three years ago for smartphones. Last year, it announced three new factories. It has six factories in total. Today, it churns out two phones per second. It also manufactures power banks in India at its Noida factory.

It will be starting manufacturing of televisions very soon in the country for which it is setting up a new factory.

Xiaomi is betting big on the TV market, which is pegged at 12 million sets per annum. It launched its Smart TVs in March this year and sold more than half a million sets in first six months. A month ago, it launched voice-enabled Smart TV in 43, 49, and 55 inches categories. It is also gearing up to manufacture TVs in India.

The sale of smartphones touched 125 million units last year in India, while this year, it is pegged at 140 million units. “We believe, we would be number one for three products -- fitness bands, smartphones and power banks. Our market share in fitness bands is 56% and 30% in smartphones. Right now, there is no proper data for power banks. We believe our share is 20-30%,” Jain says.

According to analysts tracking the market, if Xiaomi maintains the current sales momentum, India will become its biggest market in the world. And, its competition is clearly with the South Korean technology giant Samsung, which is now behind Xiaomi.

Local manufacturing

Xiaomi conducted its supplier conference earlier this year.  “Around 50 of its top suppliers will be coming to India and set up local manufacturing. The combined investment from all of them will be in the range of Rs 15,000 crore and they will create 50,000 jobs in the next few years”, Jain said.

Already, one of its partners Holitech has signed an MoU with Andhra Pradesh government to set up a manufacturing facility spread over 75 acres land at Tirupathi to produce camera modules, fingerprint, and touch screen for Xiaomi. It will invest around $200 million (about Rs 1,450 crore). The factory will commence production by the first quarter next year and create employment for around 7,000 people.

Over the next year, it plans to bring more companies to India and is looking at states like UP, AP, Karnataka, and Telangana, among others to set up factories. Xiaomi has also set up an R&D centre in India for IoT devices, MIUI team for software features. It is also investing in domestic startups as it looks to increase its local sourcing.