The launch of the Mi LED Smart TV 4 is a first by Xiaomi outside China and the company expects to disrupt the Indian market with the 'world's thinnest LED TV offering'
New Delhi: After taking the top spot in the Indian smartphone market, China-based electronics and software company Xiaomi on Wednesday entered a new category in India with the launch of its smart TV priced at Rs39,999.
The model that was launched here was the Mi LED Smart TV 4, a 4K set with a 55-inch frame-less display.
The launch of the TV is a first by Xiaomi outside China and the company expects to disrupt the Indian market with the “world’s thinnest LED TV offering".
“It (TV) is the second biggest category after smartphones. We believe it is a very big opportunity for us," said Manu Jain, vice-president, Xiaomi, and managing director, Xiaomi India.
“This market is similar to what the smartphone market was three years ago. The share of smartphones sold online was just 10%...now it is 35-40%. Also, the share of smart TVs is very small in overall TV sales. The way that we disrupted the smartphone market three years ago, today we want to disrupt the TV market. Give us a few years, we will redefine the rules of the game in the TV market," Jain added.
The Mi LED Smart TV 4, which will be sold from 22 February, comes integrated with over 500,000 hours of content from video-on-demand providers.
“We are beginning with more than 5 lakh hours of content. Our aim is not to make money from hardware, from selling TVs; our aim is to make money from content from a long-term perspective, similar to our phones," Jain said.
According to IDC’s (International Data Corporation) latest quarterly mobile phone tracker, Xiaomi replaced Samsung and emerged as the number one smartphone vendor in India in the quarter ended December with a threefold year-on-year increase in shipments and 26.8% market share.
“We are number one in power banks, fitness bands and smartphones in India... whether we will become number one in TV or not I really don’t know but what I know for sure is we will be able to disrupt the TV market," Jain said.
The company is banking heavily on online channels – Flipkart, Mi.com—and its flagship Mi Home stores to push TV sales.
“Eventually. we will also think of an offline strategy. TV requires a different kind of retail; our existing retail channels are small. Even from a logistics perspective, it is different to smartphones. We will have to build separate warehousing and logistics before we think of an offline journey for TV," Jain said, without divulging the company’s investment behind the TV’s launch.
While 95% of Xiaomi’s smartphones are made locally, the company will rely on importing the TVs.
“TV, in the beginning, we are importing. For us to start manufacturing, there are three things needed: the volume has to be good enough to make financial sense; high-end products require technology innovation and we have to see whether this kind of technology exists in India or not or if our partners are willing to come set it up here; third is quality, will things produced in India meet the same quality standards as abroad," Jain said, adding that “similar to phones, if everything goes right, we should be able to manufacture TVs here but not right now."
The company has products across 30-40 categories in its home market but has so far only launched phones, fitness devices, power banks, air purifiers, smart routers and a few audio products in India.
“These are a few issues why we cannot just take these products and bring them to India. Some are not designed for Indian conditions. For example, smart scooters given Indian road conditions, are unsafe. We would not want to launch it unless we customise it for Indian road conditions. If we were to import smart scooters, (given the import duty) the price will be double. Given all these things, not every product that we have in China, we can bring here. But the aim is to build India-specific products or customise them and bring them here," Jain said.
Apart from the TV, Xiaomi on Wednesday also launched two smartphones—the Redmi Note 5 starting at Rs9,999 and Redmi Note 5 Pro starting at Rs13,999.