Date
23 January 2017
Hugo Barra, shown at the India unveiling of the Mi 4i smartphone, says Xiaomi puts its focus where it believes its future growth lies. Photo: WSJ
Hugo Barra, shown at the India unveiling of the Mi 4i smartphone, says Xiaomi puts its focus where it believes its future growth lies. Photo: WSJ

Xiaomi launches tailor-made smartphone in India

Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi Corp. has launched its eponymous smartphone in India, hoping to replicate its success at home in its biggest overseas market.

The Mi 4i smartphone features a big battery to compensate for spotty electricity supplies in many parts of India and the high-end five-inch device is priced at 12,999 rupees (US$205), one-fourth the domestic price of a 16-gigabyte iPhone 6, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

Xiaomi has shot to the top of China’s smartphone market by offering devices with top-notch specs at bargain prices, with most of its products sold online to cut costs.

Now, Xiaomi hopes to win over Indian consumers with a similar formula as growth slows in China due to tougher competition.

The Mi 4i was unveiled by Xiaomi in the Indian capital New Delhi, with a spectacle similar to those that have accompanied its product launches in China.

More than 1,500 fans packed an auditorium for Xiaomi’s first launch outside its home country.

“It speaks volumes to our focus on India, our intentions and really putting our investment where we believe the future of the company is,” Xiaomi global vice president Hugo Barra said.

Xiaomi, which means “little rice” in Chinese, has high hopes for India which has vast numbers of price-conscious smartphone shoppers, many of whom are first-time buyers.

The Mi 4i is tailored for Indian consumers, Barra said.

For instance, its automatic photo-retouching setting for selfies, called beautify, does not enlarge eyes the way it does for the Chinese market, where that feature is popular.

The beautify feature will smooth wrinkles and lighten skin tone, as it does in other markets, he said.

The Mi 4i’s battery is the company’s most powerful to date and lasts a day and a half under regular use, he said.

Xiaomi is looking to gain on market leaders Samsung Electronics Co. and Micromax Informatics Ltd. in India, which held 22 percent and 18 percent of the country’s smartphone market, respectively, in the three months ended in December, according to market research firm IDC.

Xiaomi’s market share during that period wasy 4 percent.

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RC/RA

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