Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun’s ambition to make his company the largest smartphone vendor in India is playing along quite nicely.
The Chinese company had a blockbuster 2016 in India, and its revenue crossed $1 billion, Xiaomi India’s head Manu Kumar Jain said Thursday. Jain claimed it is the fastest for any company in India to reach $1 billion in revenue. Xiaomi entered India in July 2014.
Last year, Xiaomi became the third largest smartphone brand in India in Q3 2016, after selling over two million smartphones at an annual growth rate of 150 percent. Xiaomi began its India operations by selling smartphones, but has since expanded its portfolio to include accessories as well as air purifiers.
Several Xiaomi smartphones including the $100 Redmi 3S, and $130 Redmi 3S Prime fared well in the Indian market, one particular smartphone was highly sought after. The Xiaomi Redmi Note 3, which features a 5.5-inch full-HD display, 16MP rear camera, and large 4,050mAh battery, was an instant hit in the country.
Xiaomi said it sold over 2.3 million units of the Redmi Note 3 in six months, making it the highest shipped smartphone via online channels ever.
With a starting price of $150, the Redmi Note 3 did Xiaomi a lot of good, according to Tarun Pathak, Senior Analyst at research firm Counterpoint, who said the $150 smartphone price range continues to be one of the fastest growing in India. “Xiaomi was in the right place at the right time,” he told Mashable India.
“But equally critical for Xiaomi was ramping up its portfolio and distribution network in India last year,” he added. Xiaomi entered India and for a long while relied exclusively on online channels to sell and ship its smartphones. But the company began selling some of its smartphones in India through offline channels in 2015. Last year it started to further expand its offline distribution.
Last year, the company also launched the Redmi 3S+ smartphone for the Indian market, which was available exclusively through offline retailers.
Xiaomi tied up with Redington, Innocomm and Just Buy Live offline big chain retailers among others to make it easier for people to discover and purchase its smartphones. Seven out of 10 phones sold in India are bought at offline retail stores, according to Pathak.
India has become especially important for Xiaomi, which saw a noticeable drop in sales number in China between April and June last year. “India is an extremely important market in Xiaomi’s globalisation strategy,” CEO Jun said last year. “It has become our largest market outside of mainland China.”
“Growth in India means a lot to Xiaomi. And many of its ongoing and future ambitions such as expansion of Mi Ecosystem hinges on how it does in India,” Pathak said, adding that Xiaomi really needs to come up with a “fantastic successor” to the Redmi Note 3 to continue its momentum in India.