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News18 » Tech
5-min read

Q&A: Xiaomi India head Manu Jain on the company's future plans for India

Xiaomi's Manu Jain tells IBNLive how Xiaomi is bringing its smart home ecosystem to India, why Mi 4 4G didn't come to India and more.

Ankit Tuteja | IBNLive.com@tutejankit

Updated:January 30, 2015, 1:10 PM IST
Q&A: Xiaomi India head Manu Jain on the company's future plans for India
Xiaomi's Manu Jain tells IBNLive how Xiaomi is bringing its smart home ecosystem to India, why Mi 4 4G didn't come to India and more.

New Delhi: Xiaomi, which has till now launched smartphones (along with a couple of accessories) in India, is now planning to diversifying its product portfolio in the country.

On the sidelines of the Mi 4 India launch event in New Delhi, Xiaomi India head Manu Jain spoke to IBNLive regarding the company's plans for the Indian market this year.

Jain gave an overview of the company's future products lined up for India and also clarified why the company couldn't bring the 4G variant of the Mi 4 to India and why Xiaomi does not believe in selling through retail stores.

IBNLive: As Xiaomi is expanding into home appliances and televisions, what are your plans for the Indian market?

Manu Jain: This year we plan to launch two products which we call the entire smart home ecosystem. We will start with the Mi Band and our efforts are on for launching something on the TV side - Mi TV or Mi Box - one of these or maybe both of these. We are actually evaluating those options.

The Mi Band will come in the next few months. It will be launched soon after the certification process is done.

We will be able to launch the Mi TV or Mi Box, or at least one of them or both of them (we don't know yet), only when we have the content partnerships deals closed.

IBNLive: Can we see the Mi TV and/or Mi Box in India by the second quarter of this year?

Jain: I think the second quarter will be really tough. If we launch it, then we would be able to launch it toward the end of the year.

IBNLive: Recently, Hugo Barra (VP, Xiaomi Global) was quoted as saying in an interview that the company is looking to make some investments in startups in India. What startups is Xiaomi planning to invest in India?

Jain: We have already started speaking to few select startups. So. we are talking to ... okay, so if you look at China, Xiaomi is not only about devices that Xiaomi has designed, it's also about devices which have been designed and developed by our partners. If you look at the Mi Band, it's technically not our own product. It has been developed by a company we have invested in and together we have launched it as Mi Band. Obviously, we have worked very closely.

Similarly, we are looking for a few select startups in India wherein we would be investing small amount of money. We basically want to enable this entire startup ecosystem, and we want to start this year in India.

IBNLive: Any names?

Jain: I can't name any of them as we have signed non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) with all of them. All I can say is that most of these companies would be related to some sort of mobile technology.

IBNLive: Why are Xiaomi devices available only online?

Jain: From the company's perspective, it basically gives us reach to a large audience and also helps consumers from a convenience point of view. So, that is one thing.

Today we are selling in more than 1000 cities from where we get orders every week. For us to have physical presence would have required 1000 stores in 1000 cities. And here through one single website, we are able to cater to over 1000 cities. So, it's a big advantage.

Second, what online does is it allows you to cut down all these margins that physical traditional chains have. Like you have a massive distributor, then you have a micro distributor, sometimes you have a wholesaler, then you have retailers, and you need to pay a few percentage points to each one of them. The companies, in such cases, end up giving out anywhere between 15-30 per cent in their retail chains. And all these margins are passed onto consumers. So if we had made, say the Redmi 1S available through traditional retail chains, we wouldn't have been able to make it available at Rs 5,999. So, by making our devices available only online we are cutting down on distribution costs also which help us price our devices competitively.

IBNLive: Do you have plans to make your devices available through a mix of both online and offline channels - like China?

Jain: So what we have in China is we do majority of our sales, say, 70-80 per cent of sales, through Mi.com and rest of it happens through operators like China Mobile. What we have for India is we will continue to sell through Flipkart and we will later start sale through Mi.com and we will also continue to sell through Airtel.

With Airtel our partnership is primarily centred around 4G. Since the Mi 4 in India is not a 4G device it won't be available through Airtel stores.

But we don't have plans to set up physical stores.

IBNLive: So, why haven't you launched the 4G variant of the Mi 4 in India?

Jain: So what happened was the entire Mi 4 roadmap planning was done many months ago. Usually, it takes around 12 to 15 months for us to come up with a final product as it undergoes multiple iterations. The Mi 4 went through 5 or 6 iterations before we finalised the final version.

When we were doing this (planning the Mi 4 roadmap) at that point of time we were not present in India. So, we did not know about the whole spectrum situation in India that there are dual spectrums - TDD 2300 MHz and FDD 1800 MHz. So, that was not taken into account and hence for us to efficiently have an antenna which will cater to both these bands was turning out to be a little bit of an issue. We could have done that, but then it wouldn't have been as efficient as what we would prefer. Hence, we decided to launch the 3G version of the Mi 4 in India. But for subsequent devices, now that we know how the spectrum situation is there in India, our efforts are on to make sure that most of our future devices should have both dual band support.

IBNLive: When can we see Xiaomi making its devices available through Mi.com in India?

Jain: We need to still put a lot of things in place like things related to warehouses, logistics, payment systems, national delivery, payment gateways. Once we have closure on all these things, we should be able to launch it. It may take a few months - maybe 3 months, 4 months, 6 months, 9 months - we don't know. But all I can say is that sometime this year we should be able to launch it.

IBNLive: Is rooting a Xiaomi phone covered by warranty?

Jain: Yes.

IBNLive: Do you have any plans to foray into the notebook/laptop segment?

Jain: No.

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