Manu Jain must have been a busy man. The head of Xiaomi India has not just had to cope with a controversy over the Indian Air Force allegedly banning his company’s devices but is now also in the midst of a legal wrangle, with the Delhi High Court having initially stopped the company from selling devices in India, following a suit involving Ericsson.
The man remains unfazed, however. Speaking to us over the phone, he reiterated that Xiaomi was still extremely enthusiastic about the Indian market. “Not too many people realise it, but it is the second biggest market for us after China,” he remarked. No actual figures, mind you, apart from the fact that they have reached the half million figure more than a month ago. He does tell us that another ‘significant’ milestone is likely to be reached soon. A million? Your guess is as good as ours.
Speaking of matters legal, Jain clarifies that Xiaomi has been allowed to sell Qualcomm devices in India until the next hearing on the case, which is on February 5 next year. And has the whole affair affected the company’s standing. “Well,” he says. “The court order came on 16 December. We opened registrations for a device on 17 December and well, we had more than 2,00,000 registrations in a few days.” The court order, he insists, will not affect Xiaomi’s plans for the country. The cynics might say that that is because Xiaomi at present sells only one device (the Redmi Note 3G) that has a non-Qualcomm chipset, but Jain insists that the company is bang on schedule as far as its India plans go.
“We have acquired a large area for our office and are planning to make an R&D centre in Bengaluru as well, as this is the best place to get software talent in the country,” he says.
What of the Mi4, which Hugo Barra had said would arrive in the country by the end of 2014. “It is coming in January,” Jain answers. “And you should also be seeing Mi TV and other products in the coming days. As I said, our plans for India are well on track.” As we reported earlier, the Redmi Note 4G (which is powered by a Qualcomm processor) will arrive in the Indian market on December 30, with registrations going live today.
So the product pipeline seems to be flowing smoothly. And Xiaomi is now looking to boost its service presence in the country as well. “We have five exclusive service centres at the moment and a few dozen third party ones (the number reached sixty recently),” he says. “But we have figured out that the best experience to the customers comes from our own exclusive stores. So we are looking to expand our service presence in the country in 2015 as well. By the end of 2015, we should have over a hundred exclusive service centres in the country.”
New devices, office space, an R&D centre, more service centres… controversy and legal conflict do not seen to have taken any of the edge off Xiaomi’s India ambitions.
“2014 was a very pleasant surprise for us,” Jain says. “We expect 2015 to be even better.”
And what of MWC 2015?
Jain pauses for the first time in the conversation, then laughs and says, “Oh, I really don’t know. Ask Hugo!”
You bet we will.
And in the meantime, Xiaomi has, to use a cricketing term, marked its guard, got off to a start and booked itself in for bed and breakfast in India. Controversies and conflict be damned.
We cannot hear consumers complaining one bit!