Why Xiaomi why? Why the Redmi Y?
At an event in New Delhi today, Xiaomi launched a new selfie-centric series in India. The Y1 sits comfortably between the Redmi 4 and Redmi Note 4, both of which were launched this year as well and have amassed huge success. Its budget lineup includes the Redmi 4A, 4 and the Note 4. As per the latest Counterpoint report, Xiaomi went from 6 percent in Q3 of last year to capture 22 percent of smartphone market share by Q3 of 2017 closing in on Samsung which controls 23 percent of the market. The top three smartphones in India are from the house of Xiaomi and that says something about the fan-following of the company.

However, it’s Y1 is a direct jab to the likes of Oppo and Vivo who over-index on the front-facing cameras while ignoring the overall experience of its smartphone. Xiaomi has followed the same path with its new series which sports a 16-megapixel front-facing camera but provides an easier and familiar user experience with MIUI 9. Yes, it’s the first smartphone by the company which comes with MIUI 9 running out-of-the-box.

But does Xiaomi need to go after brands like Oppo and Vivo who just focus on outfitting their smartphones with a good selfie camera and let go of the user experience? Xiaomi has garnered a cult following in India largely due to the price point it caters to with top-of-the-line specifications that can fit into that budget category. The reason why Redmi Note 4 is such a huge success is because of these qualities of the company that they bring over to their smartphones.

For instance, the Redmi Note 4 brought to the table a powerful processor in the form of Snapdragon 625, a 4000mAh battery to fuel it and a great camera in the budget segment.

It has also to do with the Mi Community in India which has people from all kinds of background interacting with each other over their smartphones. Xiaomi has a really strong community presence in the country and the end user is their fan. So technically, Xiaomi should have taken the high road and provided a good selfie camera with its next year’s lineup. Others would say that the company is going crazy launching smartphones every alternate month at different price segments and that its lineup is cluttering. But the fact of the matter is that there is an increasing demand for great front-facing cameras to fuel our narcissism in the selfies and Xiaomi is doing this because it needs to.

Xiaomi has of late also been the culprit at re-branding their Chinese versions of smartphones and launching them in India. The Redmi Y1 hasn’t escaped that as well. Xiaomi has rebranded its Redmi Note 5A for the Indian market as Redmi Y1. The company also launched the Mi A1 in India a couple of months back which was the rebranded Mi 5X which begs me to ask this, why Xiaomi why? Come to think of it, Xiaomi’s launch of the Y1 series in India wasn’t really necessary as it has already captured the market with its budget lineup which includes the Redmi 4A, 4 and the Note 4.

Dear Xiaomi, an average Indian consumer doesn't consider you as just another Chinese smartphone company. If the launch of Redmi Y1 is a result of you believing otherwise, then you need to stop overthinking about this. Going after brands like Oppo and Vivo won’t make much of a difference. Instead, what will make a difference is your take on the needs of the consumer.

I see your desire to capture the offline market in India. I see you partnering with different retail chains to make your smartphones more accessible. But that shouldn’t mean taking shoddy steps to achieve that milestone. You are popular among the masses and you will get the numbers. You just need to be patient like you were, all this time.