Xiaomi to enter more European markets, after promising debut

A man checks a Virtual Reality device inside Xiaomi booth at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, February 28, 2018. REUTERS/Sergio Perez

BARCELONA (Reuters) – Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi Technology Co said it was planning to enter more European markets following its debut in Spain late last year, when it simultaneously launched online, through partners and with its own stores in Madrid.

Speaking after the company opened its first “Mi” store in Barcelona, senior vice president Xiang Wang said the reception from Spanish consumers had been “very, very positive”.

“For the first time in Xiaomi history, we launched products to cover all three channels,” he said.

Xiaomi picked Spain as its first market in western Europe because many young technology fans knew the company already and were active in its “MIUI forum” – an online community for its open-source operating system.

“They give us feedback, even in product development,” Wang said in Barcelona, where Xiaomi was showcasing its products at the Mobile World Congress.

Xiaomi was carefully planning its entry into more markets in western Europe, he said.

“We have some ideas, we always want to find a market where a lot of fans already know us,” he said. “And markets should be active enough, big enough.”

He said Xiaomi, which gained a following by offering high-specification smartphones wrapped in sleek designs at a much lower price than the likes of Apple, could move quickly once it had decided to enter a new market.

“We are an internet company, so efficiency is key to us to be successful,” he said. “We don’t need, like a traditional company, six months or a year of preparation.”

Xiaomi grew rapidly after it launched its first smartphone in 2011, becoming the biggest vendor in China just three years later, although it has since slipped down the rankings.

It was fourth behind Huawei, Oppo and Vivo in the last quarter of 2017, although only it and Huawei posted year-on-year growth, according to research firm IDC.

Last month, its founder and chief executive, Lei Jun, set an ambitious target to regain the top spot in China in 10 quarters.

Xiaomi, which also sells a range of other devices such as rice cookers, has entered markets including Russia and Poland.

It biggest success outside China, however, has been India, which Wang said it entered three and a half years ago, initially selling through internet channels.

“In the last quarter of 2017 we surpassed Samsung to become the number one brand in India,” he said.

(Reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by Douglas Busvine and David Evans)

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