Review Central speaks to Donovan Sung, the Director of Product Management and Marketing at Xiaomi Global about the company’s roadmap for the MEA region
What sort of regional strategies does Xiaomi have for the Middle East and Africa region?
Echoing China’s “Belt and Road Initiative”, Xiaomi has racked up successive wins as its global business crosses the inflection point of explosive growth. As we work towards our vision of “innovation for everyone”, expanding our business to other markets including the Middle East and Africa region is a crucial part of our strategy.
We select markets to expand to base on the key tenets of our unique long-term, sustainable business model, which blends together hardware and software. We believe that high-quality products built with cutting-edge technology should be made accessible to everyone.
We create remarkable hardware, software, and Internet services for and with the help of our Mi fans. We have proven the Xiaomi model works in India, and we have also set our sights on MENA markets this coming year.
Many manufacturers including Xiaomi are moving towards bezel-less smartphones. Does this trend have a future?
Introduced as a concept device last October, Mi MIX delivered an unprecedented screen-to-body ratio that heralded a turning point in the design of smartphones. Mi MIX gave everyone a glimpse of what the phone of the future would look like.
We made a concept phone that defied everyone’s expectations about smartphone design, and it has pioneered the trend of full screen display smartphones. Mi MIX redefined the smartphone user experience as the first Android-based device with a 17:9 aspect ratio high-definition screen and rounded display corners, which helped pave the way for Google’s Android CDD (Compatibility Definition Document) eventually allowing screen aspect ratios beyond 16:9, as well as rounded display corners.
Mi MIX 2 builds on the foundation of the original concept. It is now 11.9% smaller than Mi MIX, and has a 5.99-inch screen with 18:9 full screen display, which delivers a stunning appearance with the screen almost entirely filling up the front surface. With Mi MIX 2, the future is now here. It has evolved from a design and technology test-bed into a user-friendly phone catered to a wider consumer group than ever before, while still evoking the wow factor.
Many vendors are also implementing AI into their devices. What plans does Xiaomi have in this area?
In July 2017, Xiaomi unveiled a voice-activated smart speaker, Mi AI Speaker, which acts as the hub for Xiaomi’s smart home products and ties the company’s Mi Ecosystem strategy together. Stemming from a collaboration between the Mi TV team, “Explorer’s Lab” and the “Mi Brain” R&D team, Mi AI Speaker further continues Xiaomi’s commitment to exploring AI technology.
Mi AI Speaker also acts as a personal assistant, giving information such as the weather, traffic conditions, personal calendar reminders, and latest news. In addition, Mi AI Speaker serves as a smart home assistant. It is able to connect to and control a host of products including the Mi TV, Mi Box, Mi Robot Vacuum Cleaner, Mi Induction Heating Rice Cooker, Mi Air Purifier, Mi Electric Fan and smart lamps.
Through an initiative termed Platform Waterdrop, Xiaomi is also seeking to welcome more third party applications for Mi AI Speaker. This initiative does not require developers to have prior experience in artificial intelligence, and makes it easy for tools and services to work with Mi AI Speaker. Previously, Xiaomi already applied AI technology to Mi TV, developing a built-in deep learning AI system for effortless discovery of new content.
Xiaomi currently operates through its partners TASK in the region? Any plans of launching a regional office anytime soon?
TASK FZCO is the exclusive business partner of Xiaomi covering the Middle East and North Africa region based in Dubai, UAE. Task aims to make Mi products available through traditional retail and e-commerce in the MENA region, bringing the quality and innovative driven technology of Xiaomi to the discerning Middle East customer.
We are delighted to launch our latest range of devices in the region through our partner TASK FZCO. We work with partners who believe in our vision of bringing innovation to everyone, providing high-quality products to users at amazing prices. We will continue to leverage the local expertise and experiences to give a better user experience to all our customers in the region.
When will Xiaomi be releasing the Oreo update for its handsets in the region? Which models are likely to get the updates?
As the first phone announced to be part of the new Android One program, Mi A1 will be upgraded to Android O by the end of the year and be one of the earliest to get the next version after Android O, too. Xiaomi’s partnership with Google will provide customers with a high-quality Android device experience, highlighting Xiaomi’s commitment to giving its users new ways to experience Xiaomi products.
What sort of ambition does the company have in the wearables business?
Xiaomi has developed a unique approach of incubating and investing in specialized companies to effectively expand its product line. Mi Band is an example of the products made by our Mi Ecosystem companies. It’s already the top selling fitness band in the world. And we’ll continue to explore opportunities in the wearables business.
After three years, the Mi Ecosystem IoT platform has crossed 60 million connected devices, becoming the world’s largest smart hardware platform. There are now over 8 million daily active connected devices on the Mi Ecosystem platform, and Xiaomi has sold over 9.5 million units of its smart module, which effectively integrates manufacturers into the platform.
Can we expect a product launch from Xiaomi anytime soon in the region?
Yes, Xiaomi is committed to this region and will continue to launch new products in countries like Egypt, UAE, and so on. We will then cordially invite all our friends and fans to join us in the coming launch events. Xiaomi is focused on making innovation available to everyone with products that feature cutting-edge technologies at amazing prices.