After announcing two months ago it was coming to the United State, disruptive Chinese phonemaker Xiaomi has announced plans to launch in the UK, with an online store featuring its Mi brand opening on Tuesday.
The company, known for its high quality yet inexpensive phones, will not be selling them to UK customers just yet, instead offering a similar line of products to what it sells in the U.S. – two batteries (10400mAh and 5000mAh), expensive semi-open headphones, and a fitness band.
But don’t let the offerings fool you. The batteries are actually the company’s fastest selling products and the restrained strategy exposes a sophisticated competitor to the likes of Apple, Samsung and Google.
Xiaomi has a number of key executives, including Hugo Barra, former Google Android product boss who left the company after founder Sergey Brin slept with his girlfriend, who are very experienced in both the mobile space and the U.S. market in particular.
Xiaomi isn’t looking to compete head on just yet but by selling wildly popular devices like its batteries it can build its brand awareness, and the trust of U.S. consumers, while it readies a fully baked product that will shake up western markets.
In the UK the company’s ambitions to sell phones was made clear, as it has hired customer care company B2X to look after support and repairs.
This means that if a customer has a problem with a Xiaomi phone or accessory, they can take it into a repair center, phone a B2X-powered call center or download a diagnostic app and B2X will take care of the problem.
This is a smart strategy, as competitor Apple runs a large network of retail stores that can address just these types of problems. To win marketshare from Apple, Xiaomi needs a similar level of service and its contract with B2X will give them just that.
“With B2X’s global reach and local on-the-ground expertise, we will be able to offer superior after sales service to our customers in Europe. The unique technology and smart service platform offered by B2X will help us adapt to customer needs quickly and effectively in this new, critical market,” said a statement from Hugo Barra, VP of Xiaomi Global.
The news will no doubt cause a bit of panic at the big phone companies and Google itself, given the brand new high end Xiaomi Redmi 2A, featuring a 4.7in 720p display, quad core processor, Android 5.0 Lollipop and dual SIM 4G, sells in China for under $150.
That’s right – cutting edge phone for about 1/5th the cost of a new iPhone.