Credit: Ryan-Thomas Shaw / Android Authority
2020 was a great year for Xiaomi. Not only did it breakthrough into the third-place globally for smartphone shipments, but overseas sales now contribute 55% to the company’s bottom line. This bodes very well for the brand’s global strategy entering 2021.
Xiaomi also took a much stronger focus on the premium end of the market. Stellar phones like the Mi 10, Mi 10 Pro, and the Mi 10T, made its devices legitimate competition for current incumbents like Samsung. In fact, while the South Korean manufacturer inched towards the value flagship segment with its own excellent Galaxy S20 FE, Xiaomi took a sure step towards the premium.
In India, Xiaomi is distancing itself from being just an entry-level segment player by spinning off Redmi into its own entity. Meanwhile, Poco, yet another Xiaomi subsidiary, reinvented itself as a separate brand.
Suffice it to say that the brand had a lot going on for it in 2020, and this paid dividends in its growing market share. However, maintaining momentum is equally important. Strong competition is bound to bring its own challenges. Here’s what we want to see from Xiaomi in 2021.
Read our other 2021 wishlists:
1. A more cohesive brand identity
Credit: Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority
In 2020, Xiaomi distanced itself from the budget player image it had inadvertently cultivated over the years. While the Redmi series remains the bread and butter of the brand, Xiaomi released a series of hits in the Mi 10 series of phones. However, it’s a long way to the top. Especially in India, the manufacturer has its work cut out for it.
Unlike European markets, Xiaomi’s budget phones in India and China ship with an ever-increasing loadout of third party apps. Now, I get the reasoning for this. Pre-loaded apps and interstitial ads help offset hardware costs and allow them to hit those appealing price points.
With the average selling price of smartphones in India hovering around Rs. 11,500 in India, this is the experience that most Xiaomi buyers are used to. However, it sets a bad precedent for higher-end Xiaomi phones that do not have any ads. While positive consumer sentiment for the Mi 10 series suggests that Xiaomi is gradually changing mindsets, it could do a much better job of conveying the right message for its high-end smartphones. This is necessary if it wants to truly stand out against brands like OnePlus.
Read more: Can phone-makers dial the rebranding down a bit?
This brings me to Poco. Despite being spun off into its own entity, the brand has issued a curious mix of rebranded Redmi products and the one-off original design. This mixed-signaling does little to build brand confidence. It is also detrimental to building a unique brand identity. Poco needs a series of original hits backed by its unique flavor of ad-free MIUI to have an impact.
Elsewhere, the Redmi K series has languished in India with no new release since the K20 Pro in 2019. Incidentally, the Chinese Redmi K30 Pro…