Last week BGR India exclusively reported that Xiaomi had hired Manu Kumar Jain as its India operations head. Moments ago Hugo Barra, Xiaomi’s vice president for international operations confirmed the news.
Hugely excited to have @manukumarjain onboard and running at full speed as Xiaomi’s India GM
— Hugo Barra (@hbarra) June 10, 2014
Jain was one of the co-founders of online retailer Jabong but had parted ways to launch his own startup Gynger, where he was planning to launch smartphones, tablets and wearables. He was looking at launching high quality smart devices manufactured by third-party ODMs in Taiwan and China at aggressive price points in India. Xiaomi has a similar model where it sells premium quality smartphones with top-of-the-line hardware components at a fraction of the price of tier one brands.
BGR India also reported that Jain is currently in the process of building the team that would launch Xiaomi in India. The way things look at the moment, Xiaomi is planning for a September-October launch likely close to Diwali.
While Barra had earlier indicated that Xiaomi won’t just set up its local operations in India but also retail smartphones through its own online retail store. However, BGR India is learnt that the Chinese smartphone giant is now considering third-party online retailers like Flipkart among others, especially after the success of Motorola with a Flipkart-only retail model.
Still a lot of strings need to be tied up before Xiaomi can launch in India, one of them being its after-sales service centre network. We would be interested to see how competitive Xiaomi is when it launches in India, especially after what Motorola has been able to do across price segments. It will be also worth seeing whether Xiaomi can maintain its “almost at cost” retail model, considering it is difficult to follow a “software as a service” model and make Indian users pay for services, especially when Google Play Store is available in the country unlike China.
However, one thing is for sure – Google India is excited about Xiaomi entering India as its country head Rajan Anandan had tweeted when news about Xiaomi’s impending India launch first broke.
@RajanAnandan Thanks so much for dinner, Rajan. Congrats on rocking it at Google India and see you back in Delhi soon!
— Hugo Barra (@hbarra) March 24, 2014