Why did Xiaomi play the Selfie card? Copying Oppo or a new business model?

I know that this isn’t my usual deepthroat technical thing. But I seriously need to pass my thoughts into this one. The Enthusiast market is a dynamic one, and it seems that many brands like Xiaomi are using us as a leverage to gain market share. Why do I think so? Read below.

The All new Redmi Y1 with 16MP Front camera.

Xiaomi’s doing experiments? Or it is a new face and business model?

Redmi has announced on Nov 2, 2017, an exciting new series and an exciting new device. What Xiaomi didn’t however, announce, is their exciting new business model.

This account is from the enthusiast user’s perspective. If you’re an average user, it might not resonate with you but if you are an enthusiast, who watches gadget reviews, unboxing, teardowns, tests, benchmarks without even having a plan for buying one, (Read: if you’re from XDA-OT) then you will find yourself right at home.

Xiaomi has been known for it’s extremely competitive pricing, phones that you just can’t believe to be available at a certain price point, from the performance point of view. I have been using Redmi 3S for 1 year and I can say that, I am quite happy. I don’t play games or multitask seriously (as I have a laptop), but what I want is a decent camera, looks, performance and a long battery. And Xiaomi totally nailed it there for me.

Redmi 4 was the successor to Redmi 3S. It had an even better processor (Snapdragon 435), better performance and camera. What remained was the battery life! At 4100 mAh, If I find my phone less than 70%, I can still be confident that, I will take it back to home alive, even with heavy usage.

But in Redmi Y1 things took a turn. The battery capacity reduced by 24.9% and what we got was an improved front camera. The Processor, RAM and Storage options remain the same.

Not just that, we now have Katrina Kaif, as brand ambassador of Xiaomi promoting the Redmi Y1. And it is seriously a staggering move from Xiaomi, and this celebrity endorsed, selfie focused strategy is from Oppo.

I am sorry for the typo, or should I?

Xiaomi might be considering the Oppo route?

It is quite positive that this is a hint of Xiaomi taking the Oppo route, Celebrity endorsements, High marketing hype of decent product and over emphasis on Selfie camera. This is totally the game that Oppo, Vivo and Gionee plays.

Previously, Youtubers GeekyRanjit and Technical Guruji had tried to bust the Oppo/Vivo bubble, with little effect. The reason I think is their viewers probably aren’t Oppo/Vivo crowd nor am I addressing the right crowd.

But all that being said, Xiaomi might be taking a new route. I think we can call it, the Oppo Business Model v2. Reasons are as followed:

  1. Xiaomi Redmi Y1 isn’t a bad phone. They have added a good selfie camera, marketed more and reduced the battery. And their price to performance ratio is much higher than Oppo/Vivo at that segment
  2. Xiaomi is still with Snapdragon. Maybe because they don’t have any options, but this still plays for them.
  3. Xiaomi, even without much promotions, is the leader of the online sales of sub-15k phones. And this might be their card for entering the offline market (which is still a huge market thanks to the low internet penetration)
  4. Xiaomi is still incorporating their old model of contests and giveaways, their strong community and developer support. Which are the pillars of it’s strength

In every business, Revenue, Loyalty and Growth are two very strong indicators of its health. While Revenue is a lagging factor (it takes some time to reflect), Loyalty and Growth are not very lagging factors. And both Oppo and Xiaomi has played it there. Let’s look at the Business Model and how they are similar (and OnePlus too)

Xiaomi, Oppo and OnePlus have started with the enthusiast market

The enthusiast market is comprised of Geeks. Those who love technology, tries new devices and very proactive. Their primary criteria is a Good all rounder phone at an unforeseen price.

In the contrary, the General Market is the regular users. They don’t make smart buying decisions. They usually can’t tell the difference between SD621 and SD625.

The Geek Market is very small. The General Market is very large. But there’s a difference.

If a geek finds a phone good, he will make sure to recommend it to all his friends (i have sold at least 3-5 units of Redmi 3S). If a brand can convince geeks that this brand is good then they’ll have a pretty good foothold. One example could be the marketing strategy of SoundMagic. Pretty much every big reviewer has positive opinion on SoundMagic which has tremendously helped SoundMagic’s overall brand perception as well as sales.

Oppo started with enthusiast, changed gears

Oppo had started with amazing swiveling camera modules, a single camera doubling as both. They didn’t have crazy adverts, they didn’t have any flashy thing, but they did have innovation. Which meant they passed the Geek test.

Xiaomi started with enthusiast, trying to change gears

Xiaomi started with Redmi 1S. No flashy adverts, no offline sales, just a gem of a phone. They had passed The Geek Test with flying colors. No ifs, no buts, just amazing phone.

OnePlus started with enthusiast, trying to hike prices to compete with premium brands

OnePlus also started with the exact same business model, crazy features at unheard of prices. Won the Geek test and Geek’s hearts as well. They had very similar business models, just at different price points.

When Oppo hit the offline market, most Geeks were happy, Oppo coming to my city! Wow! But the euphoria didn’t last long as Oppo quickly changed gears into this current strategy, which is, undeniably making them money.

Xiaomi has started changing gears. They’re surely playing safe as if it fails, they can go back anytime now without taking any significant damage.

Barack Obama making Silly faces

Are we being used by brands like Oppo, Xiaomi etc?

It is quite possible that The Geek Market has become a incubation chamber for brands. Anyone who tries to enter, appeals to this market (we are the brand ambassadors), this gives them a huge boost in presence and brand image.

After this, the brands try to enter the conventional market. Their criteria is brand image, which we have made for them (because they had good phones). And I think, this is a working strategy.

Is it bad for us?

No! We are the Guardians of the tech Galaxy (not Samsung Galaxy) and we should feel good for that, despite being dumped by brands, I think we are the best! Brands will come and go, and we will decide who comes and who goes! We are like bullies for them, right? Cheers!


If you liked this story, please click the bell icon near the bottom right of your screen and you’ll never miss another update for me. And in case I need to emphasize it again, this blog has no banner ads! I don’t make money from it. So, you’ll get the crude and raw opinion than something manipulated by money! Thanks!


Your Best Selfie: http://yourbestselfie.in

Redmi Y1 GSMArena: https://www.gsmarena.com/xiaomi_redmi_y1-8753.php

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