Xiaomi Plans To Expand Beyond Asia, Will Sell Smartphones in Russia and Brazil This Year
The four-year old Chinese handset maker Xiaomi is now set to sell its fast-moving phones in Russia, Brazil and parts of Southeast Asia in the next 12 months.
The Chinese company recently raised a whopping $1.1 billion from investors, which pegged its valuation at $45 billion, making it the World’s most highly valued technology startup. It sold more than 61m smartphones last year, and also became the third biggest manufacturer in the world in the third quarter of 2014.
Despite all this success, Xiaomi is yet to venture beyond the emerging markets of Asia. It currently sells its smartphones in just seven Asian countries, where the company is popular for offering phones that feature high-end specs and looks for a fraction of the price of other premium phones.
Xiaomi said in April last year that it would sell its smartphones in Brazil and Russia during 2014, but that didn’t come to pass. Now the company’s president Bin Lin, in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, has renewed the pledge to expand to both these countries, adding that it would enter even more emerging markets.
Xiaomi recently surpassed Samsung Electronics Co. and Apple to become China’s No. 1 smartphone vendor, thanks to its loyal fan base in the country. Lin said the company plans to replicate that model in other countries, including Brazil and Russia.
“We are very glad we rode the curve of smartphone growth in China,” he said. “Certainly many developing countries are following what has happened in China.”
Lin believes if the company continues to focus on its trademark strategy, i.e. providing bargains and engaging users on social media, it could also draw fans in other markets. “We don’t deliberately grow our fan base, and as a matter of fact you can’t,” he said. “Fans come for a few simple reasons, one being the products are very attractive.”
Meanwhile, Xiaomi’s growth in China will slow down in 2015, according to IDC analyst James Yan. “The thing about Chinese consumers is they want something unique, not what others have. Xiaomi is already everywhere, so people will look for something else,” James said.
Also, Xiaomi will face a number of challenges as it gets bigger. Patent issues will likely be the major problem for the company as it makes its way to overseas. Last month, one of Xiaomi’s smartphones had to face a temporary ban due to a patent infringement case filed by Ericsson. The ban was later lifted though.
“The issue of patents is not going to go away,” Lin said, adding that that the company will continue to focus on building its patent portfolio in an attempt to play safe.