20 February 2019
The Mi A1 runs on an Android One operating system, Xiaomi's first such device. Photo: Bloomberg
The Mi A1 runs on an Android One operating system, Xiaomi's first such device. Photo: Bloomberg

Xiaomi launches first Android One phone for India market

Just a week before the launch of Apple iPhone 8, Xiaomi unveiled the Mi A1, its first Android One device largely focused on the India market. The phone will also be available in more than 40 markets including Hong Kong.

Donovan Sung, marketing director of Xiaomi Global, is quite optimistic about the phone, although he told the Hong Kong Economic Journal in an interview the company does not have a sales target for its latest product.

The Mi A1′s most distinctive feature is its software: instead of having Xiaomi’s own MiUI layer, it runs on an Android One operating system, the company’s first such device.

“We are delighted to offer users a new way to experience the power of Xiaomi via different operating systems,” Sung said, while stressing that MiUI would remain the major operating system for the company’s devices.

Sung said Xiaomi’s partnership with Google is win-win cooperation, but the company does not have any plans to use the Google operating system in upcoming products designed for the international market.

“This [Android One] operating system is not specifically designed for low-end smartphones,” Jon Gold, Google’s global director of Android partner programmes, told HKEJ.

“We aim to enhance user experience in the future and there will be many more smartphone models running on it.” 

Xiaomi’s Mi A1 will hit Hong Kong on Sept. 7, priced at HK$1,799. The metal-bodied device features two 12-megapixel rear cameras and comes in three color options – rose gold, black, and gold.

It also features free unlimited cloud storage via Google Photo.

“We have not seen any impact on our sales in India from the recent China-India standoff at Dokalam,” Sungsaid, referring to the two countries’ border dispute in the Himalayas.

Meanwhile, Sung revealed that Xiaomi does not have a big budget for promotions in foreign markets such as India and Indonesia, “due to the tough competition in these markets”.

After the company launched more “Mi Homes” in the first half of the year, its exclusive retail stores in India saw a 10-fold surge in local sales, Xiaomi’s vice president Manu Jain told HKEJ.

There are only five Mi Homes in India, although the company plans to raise the number of its offline stores in the countryto about 100 in the next two years.

“Many customers in India get used to purchasing smartphones through visiting the retail outlets,” Jain said. “Opening more physical stores is an effective way to boost offline sales.

“Also, Mi Home stores have the company’s entire smartphone portfolio and other products like accessories on display, which would enhance customers’ experience on Xiaomi devices,” he added.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Sept. 6

Translation by Ben Ng

[Chinese version 中文版]

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