China’s Xiaomi en­ters UK with phones, wrist­band and scooter

Iran Daily - - Science & Technology -

Xiaomi — the world’s fourth best­selling hand­set maker — has added the UK to its grow­ing list of mar­kets.

The Chi­nese firm’s ini­tial line-up for the coun­try in­cludes three smart­phones, a fit­ness-track­ing wrist­band and an elec­tric scooter, BBC re­ported.

It is also open­ing a shop in Lon­don’s West­field Shep­herd’s Bush shop­ping cen­ter, which also has an Ap­ple store.

The launch ex­pands its pres­ence in Western Eu­rope, where it is also ac­tive in Spain, France and Italy. Xiaomi has a rep­u­ta­tion for com­pet­i­tively pric­ing its prod­ucts and seek­ing to max­i­mize earn­ings by pri­or­i­tiz­ing vol­ume over profit mark-up.

Ear­lier this year, it an­nounced it would limit its hard­ware prod­ucts’ net profit mar­gin to five per­cent, sug­gest­ing the move would help con­vince cus­tomers it was a brand that could be trusted.

Ac­cord­ing to mar­ket re­search firm IDC, only Huawei’s smart­phone sales are out­pac­ing it in terms of growth among the ma­jor man­u­fac­tur­ers.

Xiaomi’s ini­tial flag­ship phone for the UK will be the Mi 8 Pro - an An­droid hand­set with a fin­ger­print sen­sor hid­den be­hind its 6.2in (15.7cm) dis­play, and a trans­par­ent glass rear through which some of its com­po­nents can be seen.

It will start at £499. That is sig­nif­i­cantly less than the cost of premium mod­els sold in the coun­try by Ap­ple, Sam­sung, HTC, Sony and Huawei, but it matches the price of One­plus’s new 6T.

Co-founder Xiang Wang told the BBC that Xiaomi in­tended to ex­pand its range of prod­ucts in the UK in 2019, and might also launch its sub-brand Poco.

And while he said his firm has no plans at present to hold one of its fa­mous ‘flash sales’ in the coun­try — in which lim­ited quan­ti­ties of a new de­vice are put on sale at a set time — he in­di­cated that they could be of­fered at a later date to help drive aware­ness.

“When Xiaomi en­ters a coun­try they al­most al­ways grow very fast,” com­mented Neil Maw­ston, from the con­sul­tancy Strat­egy An­a­lyt­ics.

“That’s hap­pened in In­dia, In­done­sia and Rus­sia and now we’re see­ing it grow very quickly in Spain.

“Those most at risk of los­ing sales to them in the UK in­clude Sam­sung, Huawei, TCL Al­ca­tel, LG and ZTE — Ap­ple is prob­a­bly safe be­cause it plays in much higher price tiers.”

An­other ex­pert added that it would be a mis­take solely to fo­cus on the com­pany’s smart­phone am­bi­tions.

“It’s jaw-drop­ping the amount of prod­ucts that Xiaomi makes,” said Ben Wood, from the CCS In­sight con­sul­tancy.

“When you go to one of its stores in Hong Kong it’s in­cred­i­ble — there’s ev­ery­thing from ro­bot vac­uum clean­ers to smart lamps to air pu­ri­fiers to elec­tric tooth­brushes.

“But the big ques­tion for me is whether this is a mar­ket too far given that there is al­ready an un­prece­dented level of com­pet­i­tive in­ten­sity here, par­tic­u­larly among smart­phones.”

How­ever, a third an­a­lyst said the Chi­nese com­pany may have picked the per­fect time to join the fray.

“Af­ter the UK leaves the Euro­pean Union, we may see con­sumers rein back on dis­cre­tionary spend­ing, re­sult­ing in a fall­ing av­er­age sales price mov­ing for­ward,” said James Smith, from Fu­ture­source Con­sult­ing.

“Should the con­sumer wal­let be squeezed... we may see in­creas­ing de­mand for mid-range hand­sets, a mar­ket in which Xiaomi has a very strong of­fer­ing.”

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