Guest Post: Xiaomi may be first truly global Chinese brand

Guest Post: Xiaomi may be first truly global Chinese brand

Lawrence Lundy, consultant at Frost & Sullivan, highlights the growth of Chinese smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi and how the company has managed to undercut global competitors.

The profit challenge

The single biggest challenge facing the smartphone industry is making profit. In Q3 2013, Apple and Samsung captured 106 per cent of the industry profits (Apple with 65 per cent, Samsung with 41 per cent). Every other smartphone vendor either broke even or made a loss. Apple dominates in the premium and profitable end of the market, whilst Samsung benefits from an integrated supply chain and a huge channel presence. Companies such as LG, Sony and Lenovo are relying on other electronic businesses to support their smartphone efforts.

Not only is it difficult to capture profit today, competition has increased at a rapid pace as local manufacturers begin to scale and build cumulative experience in operations and manufacturing.

Companies like OPPO and Miromax can now produce smartphones that are considered ‘good enough’ to the majority of consumers for less than US$100. These dynamics are driving down the average selling price (ASP) and eating further into margins. If smartphone vendors are to remain competitive and capture any profit they must offer more than just hardware. Companies must differentiate and add value with software, services, content, and the integration of all of these parts to create a compelling user experience.

Xiaomi the money

Xiaomi’s handset sales more than doubled in 2013, with 18.7 million devices sold compared to seven million in 2012. This represented US$5.22 billion in revenues for the year, with the company forecasting revenues of US$11.2 billion for 2014. Since its first smartphone launch in August 2011, the company has developed a six per cent market share in China, the world’s largest smartphone market. On the face of it, this success can be attributed to its cost leadership strategy, which has allowed it to win market share by undercutting competitors such as Lenovo, Huawei and Coolpad. However Xiaomi’s strategy is in fact to price its devices as low as possible, often at cost price, and generate its revenues by selling software and services to the user. Amazon have adopted a similar strategy for its Kindle devices, but this is the first time we have seen it in the smartphone industry.

In order to provide value to the customer Xiaomi focuses on three key factors: a ‘Hardware as a Service’ strategy, an e-commerce sales model, and a focus on software, services and content. These factors create a new smartphone business model using hardware as a platform to deliver services.

This model positions the company perfectly for the evolution of the value chain in the smartphone industry which will see the bulk of profits move up the stack from the devices towards the application and service layers. By providing the hardware, software and services in an integrated model, Xiaomi is well positioned to provide the best customer experience and capture greater profits. Xiaomi may well go on to be the first truly global Chinese brand.

Latest headlines

Latest by Category

Tweets about "humanipo"