The launch of the rising Chinese technology giant Xiaomi’s latest mobile phone has been a resounding success, Android Central reports, with the Mi Note selling out just three minutes after it went on sale on Tuesday morning.
We don’t know how many devices were sold, but Xiaomi has received more than 220 million reservations for the mobile device (though these won’t all translate into sales). The company is aiming to sell 100 million devices in 2015 — a substantial jump from the 61.1 million sold in 2014.
Xiaomi is sometimes described as the “Apple of China,” and it has been criticised for producing devices that bear remarkable similarities to those of the Cupertino company. Apple design boss Jony Ive has labelled the designs of Xiaomi’s phones as “theft.” But for the Mi Note, Xiaomi eschewed Apple’s aesthetic, instead opting for a simple, elegant glass design. (CEO Lei Jun even mocked Apple’s designs during the Mi Note’s unveiling.)
The Mi Note also boasts impressive specs, packing more RAM, a bigger battery and a more powerful camera into the Mi Note than is in the iPhone 6 — at a significantly cheaper cost. The Mi Note starts at $US370, while the iPhone is $US749 for the lowest-spec option. Early reviews of the Mi Note are also highly positive.
Asia is an increasingly important market for Apple, which has made remarkable headway in South Korea because of the larger size of the iPhone 6 and the 6 Plus. It now threatens to unseat Samsung as the market leader in the country. And Apple is poised to announce that, for the first time, it sold more iPhones in China than it did in the US in the past year.
That’s why Xiaomi’s success is a big deal. China is now essentially Apple’s primary market. Apple is also doubling down on its retail presence in the country. Xiaomi says it doesn’t intend to enter Western markets for “a few years,” but it is creating handsets that directly compete with Apple’s devices and, arguably, that perform better than them.
Android Insider reports that Xiaomi is preparing to launch an iPhone trade-in scheme to target Apple even more aggressively. If successful, it would be an unprecedented sign of weakness at Apple.
It is, however, worth noting that Xiaomi has been accused of “scarcity marketing” before. Its critics have said the company deliberately sells limited amounts to frenzy demand. CEO Lei Jun has responded that “the reality [is] the supply of Xiaomi phones doesn’t meet the demand.”
“High-end smartphones are like seafood,” he said. “Not every factory can handle them, and you don’t dare store them up without selling them.”