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Xiaomi makes India debut

One of the largest mobile companies of China, Xiaomi commenced its India operations on Tuesday with the launch of its Mi range of smartphones. The company, which has 33 billion yen of revenues and has already sold over 26 million smartphones so far this year, will sell in India only through e-commerce sites. It has forged a partnership with the largest e-commerce portal Flipkart for sale and delivery of these products.

Manu Jain, India operations head for the company said that Xiaomi plans to sell only online currently and bypassing the traditional retail channel is helping the company save almost 25% to 30% of its margins – a cost, which is being passed on to the consumers.

The three new smartphones by the company — Mi 3, Redmi 1S and Redmi Note — will be priced at Rs 13,999, Rs 6,999 and Rs 9,999, respectively. Xiaomi’s International Vice President Hugo Barra, a former Google Inc executive who joined last year, said the company expects India to become its largest market outside of China. He said the privately owned Xiaomi was planning to build India-specific features for its phones and set up a local team to help penetrate one of the world’s fastest growing smartphone markets.

India is the world’s third largest smartphone market, ranked only after the US and China. Xiaomi’s success in China has partly come from its unique Android operating system, which it tailored to its customers. Xiaomi is better known globally as China’s answer to Apple Inc, an image that billionaire Lei Jun had fostered initially when he founded the company in 2010 by dressing in the black tops, jeans and sneakers favoured by the late Steve Jobs.

In China, Xiaomi has built a fan base much like Apple. Xiaomi plans to start selling phones on its own website in the near future as well. Jain said the company will not look at spending big on advertising and marketing but instead focus on social media to spread the word as it is a more “interactive” medium. The company is starting with 36 service centres across top 20 cities with two exclusive Mi centres in Delhi and Bangalore.

Xiaomi is also planning to launch in Indonesia next expanding its focus on emerging markets.

Xiaomi became the world’s sixth-largest smartphone vendor in the first quarter of 2014, according to data firm Canalys, after repeatedly doubling its sales. The company, valued at $ 10 billion last year, expects to sell 60 million phones this year.

The Xiaomi Redmi 1S features a 4.7-inch display, powered by a 1.6GHz quad-core processor and 1GB RAM. It comes with 16GB internal storage (expandable up to 64GB). With 2,000 mAh battery, it has 8MP rear camera and 1.6MP front camera.

The Redmi Note phablet sports a 5.5-inch display, 1.7GHz MediaTek octa-core processor and 2GB RAM. It comes with 8GB internal storage (expandable up to 32GB), 3100 mAh battery, 13MP rear camera and a 5MP front camera. The two phones will be available in August.



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