An inside look at Xiaomi India

Lei Jun (on the right), founder and CEO of Xiaomi and Manu Kumar Jain (on the left), Vice President of Xiaomi and Managing Director of Xiaomi India

Editor’s note:
We have become the number one smartphone vendor in India in Q3 2017 as per IDC. With a market share of 23.5% and 9.2 million smartphones shipped in the quarter, Xiaomi has become the fastest growing smartphone brand in India, surging nearly 300% percent year-on-year! The following is a letter from Manu Kumar Jain, who oversees Xiaomi India.

Three years ago, we started our India journey…

We started with a clear goal in mind: to create high quality products and offer them at prices that allowed us to bring our innovation to everyone. We didn’t have a big team or a big budget. What we did have was extremely innovative products, a handful of dedicated people, the backing of our Mi Fans and lastly, a clear goal to disrupt the market.

We were told that our dreams were too ambitious. We were told that we would fail. Like the hundreds of startups that have come and gone, we were told we would just be another brick in the wall. But here we are three years down the line, achieving the impossible.

I’m really happy to announce that today, Xiaomi is the No.1 smartphone brand in India. This is, without doubt, the biggest feat we’ve achieved since entering the Indian market.

To put things into perspective, we started our India journey in 2014. Based on what we know, no other brand has ever managed such a feat in India within such a short period of time.

To make it easier to digest, let’s crunch on some numbers. As per IDC’s report for Q3 2017, Xiaomi India shipped 9.2 million units in this quarter and commands a 23.5% market share.

Some other trivia from the IDC report which I’d like to share with you:

  • We continue to be the fastest growing smartphone brand in India with a year-on-year growth of nearly 300%.
  • We have witnessed a 91% growth from last quarter to now.
  • With a 51% market share, we continue to maintain leadership in the online smartphone market for three consecutive quarters.
  • We started building our offline channel earlier this year, and within just two quarters, we’ve managed to double our offline sales and are the fourth largest brand within the offline segment.
  • The blockbuster Redmi Note 4 continues to be the #1 best-selling smartphone for the third consecutive quarter, a feat absolutely unheard of for a 10-month old product.
  • Three of the top five selling smartphones this quarter are Redmi smartphones – Redmi Note 4, Redmi 4 and Redmi 4A.

I’d like to dedicate this milestone to each and every one of the Xiaomi India staff, Mi Fans, and all those who trusted us with their hard-earned money. Thank you for putting in the effort to take this company forward. Thank you for doing the impossible.

Until next time,

Manu

Connecting with our Mi Fans in Spain

When you think of a brand that makes friends with its users, what comes into your mind? Xiaomi takes it to a whole new level and our sincerity and passion in engaging with our Mi Fans has gained us a following worldwide.

Our connections with Mi Fans start from the top. Our high-ranking executives, including our founder and CEO Lei Jun, interact frequently with our fans on our MIUI forum, and even meet them in person at big parties like the annual grand event Mi Pop, where sometimes executives dance for fans and send out gifts.

You’ve also probably noticed that there’s always a special zone for Mi Fans at each of our launch event. We invite fans to our launch events so they get first hand news from our executives and are able to get a hands on our latest products, instead of hearing about us only through online mediums.

We cherish the connections with our fans. In our Beijing headquarters, there’s a big cupboard full of handmade gifts from our fans.

Our loyal fan base has become an integral part of our corporate culture. Nowadays our fans have a global presence, including markets we haven’t officially entered. For example, though we just announced our official entry into Spain, we have had a loyal Xiaomi following there for a long time. In fact, two of our first 100 MIUI beta testers in 2010 were from Spain.

Ahead of our official launch in Spain, we held a party with Spanish Mi Fans on 29 October. We randomly selected five fans to speak to one-on-one about their experiences with Xiaomi, their favorite products, and their suggestions and feedback.

Spanish Mi Fans at the party, including Alex (on the right in the front row), one of our first 100 MIUI beta testers in 2010

The five Spanish Mi Fans are: Alazne, 17, a science student; Izadi, 20, computer engineering student; David, a public servant; Jorge, 37, a computerized system administration; Raul, a civil servant.

From left to right: Alazne, Izadi, David, Jorge and Raul

How did you first hear about Xiaomi?

Alazne: I got to know Xiaomi through my dad, who joined the MIUI forum and bought me the first Redmi. We used to call it the “HongMi Red Rice 1”, and that was my first Xiaomi product and introduction to the company.

Izadi: I wanted to replace my old Nokia N95 and I decided to look into the Chinese market to find a better phone with a lower price. I found Xiaomi’s Mi 1. Objectively, it didn’t have the best specs, but I loved MIUI because I could personalize it. I also saw that there was a  forum where I could get my questions answered and later I decided to import my M1S Youth Edition.

David: It was out of luck. At the time, I had a HTC Nexus One and I was looking for a custom ROM for that phone. Searching on the Internet I found the MIUI ROM. That ROM changed my phone, it was another way to know Android with a lot of focus on personalization. And that also changed my life because I got to know other like-minded MIUI fans who shared my interests.

Jorge: I learned about Xiaomi when I was searching the market to change my old phone. I found that people were talking about MIUI and I became interested.

Raul: Through MIUI forum.

What was your first Xiaomi device?

David: My first contact with Xiaomi was through the Mi 1S.

Jorge: The Mi 1S

Raul: Redmi 1

What’s your favorite product?

Alazne: Without a doubt my favorite device is the Mi 5 because of its design and functionality. I also really want to try the Mi MIX 2 in white.

Izadi: I don’t know if I could choose only one because I like so many, but I guess I would have to choose Mi 3. It is the device that I have had for the longest time and I have a lot of love and appreciation for it. From the Mi Ecosystem, I love the Mi LED Desk Lamp. I really love how it looks on my desk and its functions, despite its very simply design. And the device I would LOVE to have is without a doubt the Mi MIX 2. Right now, I have the Mi Note 2 and am very happy with it.

David: I love the smartphones. We have tried many but I really want the Mi MIX 2. It looks very elegant, it has very high quality and many bands. Also, I like the smart home products. They have great quality and come at an excellent price. I also would like to have the Mi Electric Scooter or a Mi TV 4! Oh my God, is really difficult to choose!!!

Jorge: I have to think… I prefer phones that are 5.5- or 5.7 inches so I would have to say the Mi Note 2 or the Mi MIX 2. They are not small but not excessively big and have great performance.

Raul: As a phone, I would love to have the Mi MIX 2 and the Mi 6 because of their specs. But I also would like to try many of Xiaomi’s gadgets!

What three words would you use to describe Xiaomi?

Alazne: MIUI, fans community and of course the characteristic orange color.

Izadi: Different, competitive, community

David: Made for fans, fans and fans. I think the community is the most important for Xiaomi.

Jorge: MIUI and its fans

Raul: MIUI, Fans, RCP (a Spanish term used to show quality-price relation)

A Spanish Mi Fan experiencing our headphones during the party

What do you want to tell Xiaomi?

Alazne: I want to remind Xiaomi not to forget about its origins and its fan sites like MIUI forum, which have given plenty of support and have achieved a lot of progress.

Izadi: Now that Xiaomi is growing so fast, please don’t forget your origins, don’t forget the fans and the community. Keep listening to us and if possible spoil us a little bit from time to time.

David: Never forget your roots, never lose track and become a multinational company that only thinks of money. Never leave your fans and fan sites. Listen to us, to the people that buy your products.

Jorge: Xiaomi, remember we love MIUI.

Raul: Your fans are the most important, keep listening to us.

Our relationship with Mi Fans is something we really treasure. They always encourage, support and inspire us. In our globalization journey, we always bear in mind that to never forget our roots and those who helped get us where we are now.

A Mi Fan’s seven-year journey with Xiaomi

Hong Jun, a Shanghai native and manager in the automotive industry, is one of Xiaomi’s first Mi Fans, better known among other fans by his MIUI forum name, SmartStar.

SmartStar, holding the phone in the center, with a group of Mi Fans.

SmartStar told us that it was the MIUI platform that nurtured the first Mi Fans and the first Xiaomi phone, Mi 1, turned hundreds of impressed customers into devoted Mi Fans.

Xiaomi gave 100 engineering models of Mi 1 to its earliest Mi Fans. SmartStar had device number 011.

The number of Mi Fans has increased exponentially over the years and now not only encompasses engineers but also tech fanatics, designers and general consumers who are interested in cutting-edge products.

According to Lewis Ling, Community Management Lead at Xiaomi Global, there are four large forums for Mi Fans throughout the year. There are two nationwide activities, a mid-year event called “Mi Pop” and another gathering at the end of the year. China also has a MIUI Club and Campus Club for its fan base.

There are also city-level Mi Fan gatherings, which take place once a month. They are either product review events after major launches before the first sale of new products, or short tours to interesting places nearby, bringing Mi Fans closer together.

“Every true Mi Fan has made his or her own contribution to every single Xiaomi product. Xiaomi only spent one year evolving from the Mi MIX to the Mi MIX 2 and I believe Mi Fans’ feedback and suggestions played a very important role,” said SmartStar.

Mi Fans can also directly communicate with our high-ranking executives. For example, Alee, who co-founded Xiaomi in 2010 and previously led MIUI and now leads the marketing team, used to spend one or two hours every day on the MIUI Forum to chat with Mi Fans about their problems and suggestions.

SmartStar’s Story

SmartStar recalled that he met Lei Jun, Xiaomi’s founder and CEO at the company’s first launch event of Mi 1 in August 2011. “I was helping organize a rehearsal with other Mi Fans, and it happened that Lei Jun was taking a break nearby. I sat beside him and we chatted for a long time,” he said.

“He didn’t look like a business man, but more like an engineer. This was my first impression of him. Especially, Mi 1’s price was just half of its counterparts, making me believe that he just purely wanted to make a good phone. He is always as passionate as an enthusiast. I truly admire him,” SmartStar said .

During the product launch, Xiaomi gave SmartStar a tailor-made case portraying his family, including his one-year-old daughter.

Now seven years have passed. “Her childhood was accompanied by the Mi Bunny toys and witnessed by Mi Fans and the first Xiaomi people.”

SmartStar is an expert in a technology company in the automotive industry. He said he learnt a lot from Xiaomi’s business model. For example, motivating users by catering to their real needs, as well as encouraging users to come up with their innovative ideas.

“I think it’s almost impossible for an Internet automotive company to manufacture cars, but it’s plausible for an Internet automotive company to develop in-car apps,” said SmartStar.

His company organizes fan activities from time to time, such as reviews of in-car products and apps, or test-drives of electric cars.

“I hope one day MIUI can be the bridge between Xiaomi and smart car products or apps. MIUI is the reason that attracted the earliest Mi Fans, now it can be the hub for a smarter and better life.”

“You don’t have to pay much for a good life. Technology makes your life easier and happier,” SmartStar said.

Q&A

1.Which Xiaomi smartphones have you used?

The first engineering model of Mi 1, Mi 1 (final retail), Mi 2’s engineering model and Mi 2 (final retail), Mi 3 and Mi 4 for my family, Mi Note and Mi 5.

2.What Xiaomi products do you use at home?

I have a Mi Smart Home Kit which includes smart sensors for windows and doors. They can automatically turn on the light, and start household appliances remotely.

I also have other Mi Ecosystem products including Mi Robot Vacuum which automatically cleans my home every two days. Once connected to a Xiaomi smartphone, I can monitor my Mi Water Purifier remotely and receive a notification when any of its four purifier filters is expired. I can also remotely turn on or off my Mi Kettle and set water temperature, so that my daughter can always drink warm water.

I even use Xiaomi’s consumer products like toothbrush, towel and sports shoes.

Now I’ve developed a habit that whenever I want to buy any smart device or consumer product, I will check on Mi.com first to see if Xiaomi has this particular product on sale.