Xiaomi‘s success in India since its launch is attributable to the affordable smartphones and online-offline sales model. Despite being a ‘Chinese’ player, the brand has done well owing to the early tie up with the government’s Make in India initiative. The company is now gradually moving into other product categories in the Indian market. After debuting its smart LED TV range in the country last month, Xiaomi is now looking at expanding its smartphone portfolio by launching as many as six smartphones this year.
In an interview with Livemint, Xiaomi global vice-president and India head Manu Kumar Jain said that the company will look to write a mix of small and large cheques to acquire stakes in software and internet startups over the next 12 months. Xiaomi also plans to increase the pace of its investments over the next few years as part of its strategy of investing $1 billion in Indian ventures.
As for its 2018 plans, Xiaomi intends to not only launch six smartphone models in India, but also aims to expand its offline presence with 100 exclusive stores, and introduce new product categories to build a non-smartphone business. Under Jain’s leadership, Xiaomi has crossed $1 billion in revenue in India. The company is now poised to crossed the $2 billion mark soon.
“Our journey in India has just started. We can achieve a lot more on every front,” Jain is quoted as saying in the report. He did not elaborate as to how many startups Xiaomi will invest into in the next 12 months, however, the company’s five-year target is to have an average of nearly two dozen startups annually. Last year, Xiaomi founder Lei Jun pledged to invest at least $1 billion in 100 Indian startups over the course of five years to create an ecosystem of apps around its smartphone brand. Since inception, Xiaomi and its sister company, Shunwei Capital, has backed 10 internet startups in India. Recently, the company invested in ShareChat and KrazyBee.
“India is changing drastically. We really believe that India will become hugely digital in the next five years and we want to help promote that. We would want to increase the pace of investments to support these Indian companies. In India, we started with smaller investments…but if there’s a need, we can do bigger ticket sizes.”
The company is looking at investing in early to mid-stage startups in spaces such as content, fin-tech, hyperlocal services, and manufacturing.
Talking about the new product categories, the company already has a much wider non-smartphone portfolio in home country. However, it is yet to decide which all products it will introduce in India. “We have smart scooters, we have smart cycles, smart water purifiers, weighing scales, smart cookers, smart shoes, etc. — people keep talking about these products and asking when we will launch them in India. We don’t know at the moment whether those products will do well in India, firstly, and secondly, even if we were to launch them for India, how would we customize them for Indian conditions?” Jain said.
“Our aim is to launch many more product categories in India—we already have 7-8 categories in India. If you look at our product line-up in India right now, we have phones, smart TVs, fitness bands, power banks, smart routers, smart air purifiers, and few other smaller categories like t-shirts and backpacks, and some smaller products like audio players,” Jain is quoted as saying. In India, Xiaomi sells air purifiers, routers, fitness bands, in addition to the recent introduction of Mi TV 4 and Mi TV 4A smart LED TVs. The debut of more non-smartphone products could help the brand replicate its China success in its second biggest market outside of home country.
Apart from introducing new product categories, Xiaomi is also focused on expanding its offline presence in the country. The company already has 26 exclusive stores in India, and a few hundred more through franchise partners. The offline expansion along with the online flash sale model has helped Xiaomi attain the top spot as the biggest smartphone vendor in India with 25 percent market share, outpacing long-time leader Samsung.