Xiaomi Malaysia’s been chalking up some smartphone fans, if the number of mobile units flying off its shelves is any indication. But at the back of our minds, one very important question lies – has it done enough for its customers?
Xiaomi is relatively new to the smartphone sphere in Malaysia, as compared to longstanding veterans such as Samsung or Nokia, but it’s evidently already made a name for itself in Malaysia. Popular for its low cost and high performance hardware, its portrayal of how quickly its phones were sold out adds to the legend of a highly coveted phone.
Just yesterday, the first wave of 13,000 units of Xiaomi devices, including the Mi3 and Redmi 1S got snapped up in a matter of minutes. 15 minutes and 20 seconds to be exact. Was 13,000 units too little? Perhaps, and if Xiaomi doesn't work on meeting the demands of the market, its growing fanbase could turn on the company that's inadvertently known as the Apple of China.
Many Malaysians, for obvious reasons, didn’t manage to score one of the devices and took to Xiaomi’s Facebook page to express their disappointment. Gerard Su said 15 minutes was probably an understatement to how fast it happened. “[It was] not even two minutes, but you stated 15 minutes? why?”
Some, like Peter Thian, had trouble even before they could get on the purchase site – they couldn’t log into their accounts as a result of the high volume traffic. "Please explain why I can't log in since 10.50am? Why don't you sell it openly instead of placing a quota?" he claimed.
"Although I managed to place my order successfully, my purchasing experience was not a good one. [It's] akin to refugees trying to chase for a loaf of bread. You may be successful with this marketing strategy for now but it may not in future," Danny Tan, said.
Being different makes a difference
But even with these teething problems, IDC Asia-Pacific senior market analyst, Kiranjeet Kaur, notes that budget phone vendors are becoming rising stars. Mainly because there’s now not much of a compelling proposition for someone to buy a more expensive phone, other than the fact that the flagship models carry a big brand and premium phone tag.
“The differentiation between a S$500+ phone and a S$200 phone now is not much when it comes to some of the hardware specs. So there’s an uprising of smartphone users who are graduating from feature phones and not used to spending hundreds of dollars on phones,” she said.
But according to Kaur, Xiaomi’s been the one many are hawk-eyeing due to the fact that the hardware specs of its devices are generally better than those of competitors at similar price points.
Another reason why Xiaomi stands at the forefront of other Chinese brands is that it isn’t perceived as yet another low-cost China phone. “I believe the flash sales help in keeping a "exclusive" phone image, and the Mi User Interface offers a range of customisation options,” Kaur mentioned.
Xiaomi's grand plan in Asia
Xiaomi’s taking baby steps towards expansion. Its global vice-presdent, Hugo Barra, recently told Stuff of its plans, which include a local distribution centre in Singapore in August in the hopes of meeting not just consumer demands, but also ship Xiaomi products to its customers on the same day.
Branding-wise, the Chinese company also intends to open its first Mi Home concept store (a model quite similar to Apple Stores) outside of China. Though Xiaomi's retail model relies on its online stores, the Mi Home, as Barra said, is a place for Mi fans to gather and have a sneak peek at the latest Xiaomi products.
So for now, you might not be able to get your hands on the latest Xiaomi product instantly, but there's enough proof that Xiaomi is seriously listening to its customers and is here to stay.