Xiaomi – It’s Not Just About A Smartphone, But An Ecosystem.

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Image Source: Efergy

More than a billion devices sold, more than 2000 OEMs in the race and more than 20 different screen sizes and lot more options in terms of Hardware, this is what the world’s leading Smartphone OS by number of devices, Android, can be consolidated into. These are just a few numbers that still speak very less about the rapid growth of Android OS over the past 8 years since it’s public launch in 2008. Just 3 years ago, in 2013, a naive user would have chucked the very though of having a well performing and usable android smartphone under $100 but today, in 2016, we have more than 50 options from various OEMs offering handsets that cost less than $100, run the OS smooth without any glitches and are reliable too! Gone are the days when people used to anticipate only for the FLAGSHIP devices from the best known brands, this is the era where people think twice before spending a bomb on an Android smartphone, especially with the likes of Lenovo, Oppo, OnePlus, Xiaomi and other manufacturers launching brilliant devices in $300 to $400 price bracket or even lesser.

So how does an OEM differentiate itself from the rest? Does all it take to create a brand shift for loyal users is a great device? I often hear how iOS users find it difficult to migrate to Android and vice versa but within the Android OS it was/is as simple as creating a new handset to beat the best existing handset. Here is where I feel Xiaomi plays a vital role in capturing the marke with IoT, smart devices, developer support, apps, awesome hardware and great customer support to create a great experience for an ecosystem of its own.

A plethora of Chinese manufacturers are trying to go global and ride on the smartphone wave over the past few years. In fact, companies such as Huawei, OnePlus, Xiaomi, Lenovo and Oppo are doing just that in a fabulous manner. Gone are the days when people used to fear a device manufactured in China that’s typically labelled as low in quality. These brands now push out devices that can give the top brands a run for their money.

So the typical question that comes in mind for every OEM is how to build brand loyalty and lock down users so that they won’t move out even if competing devices have more to offer. Apple, for one, has done an amazingly good job here. Irrespective of the advantages or disadvantages iOS has over Android you have a strong sense of connection once a user gets used to an Apple device and this loyalty will ensure good sales on a long run.

I feel Xiaomi is once such company that is slowly building this brand loyalty but with a different approach. One look at their product base will show you a wide range of smartphones and smart devices that serve various day to day activities for consumers. Here, the smartphone will be the central controller with all interconnected devices performing their task independently.

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Imagine this, what if a user invests in many of the low cost, useful and interconnected devices being pushed out by Xiaomi? As of now most features are open and work across multiple platforms but what if Xiaomi eventually starts making features exclusive to MIUI and ensure that consumers use MIUI either by using a Xiaomi smartphone or by flashing MIUI rom on their device? Or be it getting comfortable using an ecosystem of devices that work seamlessly and thus making it is very difficult to move out, in fact you need to invest a lot once again in time, efforts and money to set up a whole new ecosystem once again.

For me this is what Apple has been doing successfully. People invest in Apple devices, apps from App Store and seamless integration between Macs, iPads, iPhones, Apple TV, Apple Watch and even AirPlay speakers! Most of the tech Apple uses here are proprietary and one has to use Apple devices to ensure they keep using these integrated network of services and mind you, the kind of money one invests in setting this up is something that matters a lot! For someone to even think of moving away from this ecosystem means reinvesting huge amount of money and efforts to set up a different ecosystem and the steep learning curve in getting used to a new ecosystem. This is where Apple scores well and ensure that it’s loyal base remains loyal, of course the devices look beautiful and perform seamlessly too!

Coming back to Xiaomi, once people get comfortable with their whole ecosystem they won’t move out of it unless a rival company offers exponentially better services, be it in terms of money or the service itself. For any marginal difference in service or cost people won’t bother moving away from a well set ecosystem and considering the fact that Xiaomi provides one of the most value for money hardware paired with great services I see Xiaomi to have a great future ahead in building a loyal base of customers just like Apple did.

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