By Emmie V. Abadilla
Beijing-based handset manufacturer Xiaomi has returned to the Philippines with a vengeance after over an almost three-year absence, seeking to edge out the top two most popular handsets (Samsung and Oppo) by offering better smartphones 30 per cent cheaper than its competitors’ comparable models (although it has no definite time frame in mind).
Because it was short of manpower, Xiaomi left the Philippine market in 2015 in favor of India, the largest smartphone market in the world,.
At the time, the Chinese manufacturer’s workforce only numbered a thousand and between India, which has a population of 1.34 billion in 2017 and mobile phone users numbering about 335 million, versus the Philippines, which has only 105 million of which around 71 million are mobile phone users, it’s priority was clear.
(Some 33.4 percent of mobile phone users in India, or 112 million, use smartphones, as of last year. In the Philippines, smartphone users numbered about 30.4 million.)
As of the last quarter of 2017, the almost 8-year old Xiaomi is India’s top smartphone seller and has edged out Samsung Electronics which was the country’s top seller for six years. Now, it has a presence in over 70 countries and is expanding its footprint across the world to become a global brand.
Last year, Xiaomi re-entered the ranks of the world’s top five smartphone brands by shipment, according to IDC after shipping out 21.2 million units worldwide, representing a 59% increase from 2016.
Correspondingly, Xiaomi has beefed up its global workforce over tenfold to around 14,000, the company wants to tackle the rest of Southeast Asia again.
The Philippines is back in its list of priority markets, along with Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos, John Chen, Director for Southeast Asia, yesterday told reporters during the launch of its two models, Redmi 5A and Redmi 5 Plus, in Makati.
While it has not yet approached the country’s telecom duopoly, Xiaomi has partnered with Grimalkin Corporation, which will distribute, market and support its products in the domestic market.
In addition, the Chinese manufacturer also partnered with online shopping giants Lazada and Shopee.
Xiaomi’s range of products will be available offline at five Authorized Mi Stores – one in Trinoma, Quezon City and another in SM Megamall, Mandaluyong. Others will be in main cities, such as Cebu and Davao.
The stores will carry a wide range of Xiaomi items, including a series of Mi Ecosystem smart home products, wearables and other accessories. Online, they can be purchased through its official stores in Lazada and Shopee.