18 February 2019

Clock ticks for Xiaomi’s high-priced smartwatch rivals

The time has not proved right for Samsung’s smartwatch, the Galaxy Gear, but that is not deterring rising mainland star Xiaomi from having a shot. The Chinese mobile handset maker is reportedly working on a smartwatch that has all the functions but not the price of its South Korean rival.

There’s general market consensus that wearable devices are the future of the smartphone. Google is testing its Google Glass gadget and Apple is rumored to be creating an iWatch. The Galaxy Gear was the first of the big names to bring a product to market but it attracted a barrage of criticism, not least because it can realize its full potential only if connected to specific Samsung smartphones.

Another major factor putting buyers off the Galaxy Gear is its hefty price tag. The device comes in at around HK$2,400 (US$308) in Hong Kong, putting it close to the price of Xiaomi’s mid-range MI-2 smartphones, which have a Qualcomm quad-core chipset and a 13 megapixel auto focus primary camera.

PingWest, a website tracking mobile technology trends, quoted an original equipment manufacturer in Shenzhen as saying that Xiaomi has begun mass production of its smartwatch and it will probably debut by the end of this year.

Unlike the Galaxy Gear, Xiaomi’s wearable device is likely to maintain the company’s “affordable yet high-end” strategy, PingWest said, adding that Xiaomi’s lower price would be “fatal” for its rivals.

According to an industry survey by TrendForce, Xiaomi has already replaced HTC as the fifth-largest mobile phone brand by market share on the mainland, behind Samsung, Apple, Nokia and Huawei.

But how can Xiaomi repeatedly undercut its peers even in the high-end market? Taiwan’s Want Daily quoted a mainland analyst as saying that Xiaomi is making up for the loss in smartphone sales by selling a wide range of high-margin accessories.

– Contact the writer at [email protected]


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