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Xiaomi News Round-up January

So I’ve dragged myself off my new phone to bring you the news – well my interpretation of it. It would be a bit much to call it insight so I won’t.

Xiaomi M1 phone updates

Firstly, Xiaomi M1 phone itself has received another OTA update. So we are now on MIUI 2.3.5k. This the stable version. I’ve not tried the development ROM. Meanwhile two other Beta ROMS for the Xiaomi M1 have emerged. First a beta ICS release. Subsequently a MIUI 4 (including ICS) beta ROM was released by Xiaomi. There are hefty health warnings issued with these and some testers have reported issues so I have steered clear of these for now. But they are available on the Xiaomi site for those who wish to play. We are in the middle of Chinese New Year now so don’t expect many more developments for the next few weeks.

On a more personal note, I am absolutely delighted with the phone. It is part of my daily life now and I have had absolutely no issues. The battery life still surprises me. The OTA process runs in background and offers you the chance to backup either locally, via the cloud or both. Just reboot when you are ready and it just works with no drama. Now it has got through its probation period I feel more confident about doing something drastic to my HD2.

Xiaomi Availabilty

As you may already know the third round of sales started from Xiaomi’s Website on January 12th. As I predicted, the 500,000 available handsets were sold out in hours.

There are some astonishing figures behind this according to Taiwan based Ifeng’s news website (in Chinese). The article sets out the context where many Taiwan mobile phone enthusiasts have scorned many of the mainland’s attempts to produce a smartphone and regarded them simply as Shenzhen knockoffs of there own HTC brand. Whilst this was certainly the case in the past, Xiaomi is a wake up call. Not only is it not a fake, but its better, cheaper and the Chinese mainland population are turning away from HTC and domestic Chinese phones like the Xiaomi and Meizu are attracting international attention. They note the Xiaomi M1 is currently reselling on Taobao (Chinese Ebay) for £258 on average. Remember it cost £200. An HTC EVO4G resells on average for £189.

On the January 12th sales at one point reached 700 orders a second, 100000 handsets were sold in first 45 minutes, 230000 after 2 hours and 300000 by 9pm that night. In comparison, internet sales of  HTC’s equivalent phone were 45000 for one week. They conclude that it would take a month for HTC to do what Xiaomi did in six hours. The fact that Xiaomi’s online system can handle such volumes amazes me if these figures are true, especially when you consider the farce that has been the British Olympic ticketing system. How can you possibly oversell synchronised swimming tickets??? Anyway, another concern for the Taiwanese were the metrics coming from Baidu – the main search engine in China. There ranking of smartphone searches was:

  1.  iPhone4
  2. Xiaomi M1
  3. Lenovo S1,
  4. Nokia ??,
  5. Samsung
  6. HTC

Meantime, Xiaomi are now in the process of delivering their recent batch of sales and this will continue through to March. I don’t think there will be any more sales until this time as they will need to build up stock again.

Xiaomi Customer Support

As you may know, up until now Xiaomi has purely been an internet only operation. This is basically the model that Google attempted with the original Nexus. Customer support was Google’s downfall and they eventually abandoned this approach and went back to a more conventional approach. Xiaomi are hitting the same problem but are going to tackle it a bit differently. According to their forum, they are opening a number of service centres across China where you can also buy accessories for your Xiaomi M1 phone and customer support is going to be the main focus of attention over the coming months. So it appears that they are going to adopt Apple’s approach to customer service. It will be interesting to see how this will develop should they choose to sell the phone internationally. If you are interested in this sort of thing, there is also a detailed description of the new invoicing systems including the printers on the Xiaomi forum. Again, it is in Chinese but I find it really refreshing to see a company – let alone a Chinese company, being so transparent about its operations, problems, plans and aspirations. You can see why the likes of HTC are worried.

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