The Redmi brand, synonymous with the success of Xiaomi’s smartphones in India, is preparing to expand into smart TVs, gradually helping the parent brand differentiate itself from the price segments. Eshwar Nilakantan, Smart TV Category Leader at Xiaomi India, told indianexpress.com that the products have been designed and manufactured to scratch in India and will be manufactured in the country.
“When we launched Mi TV in India, in addition to certain numerical commitments, the big goal was to alter the landscape of smart TV in this country… how can we make it more affordable and bring it to more homes? So far we have shipped five million televisions, three million of them made in India. Even our QLED TVs are made in India, ”said Nilakantan.
Xiaomi recently expanded its TV manufacturing capabilities with a new factory in partnership with Radiant in Telangana. “Redmi TVs in India are not the same models as in China. These are developed exclusively for India. Remember, there is no Android TV in China, no netflix, and no Amazon Prime, so there are no certification requirements, which are necessary in India. And this is not only for Xiaomi but also for other players ”, he explained.
The announcement also comes as the Mi TV brand tries to offer more premium products. For example, the company launched a QLED TV with the Mi TV brand in December 2020, which starts at Rs 54,999. Currently, the most affordable Mi TV starts at Rs 14,999 for the 32-inch variant and another at Rs 15,999.
“We also realized that it is getting difficult to move up the premium ladder if Mi TV is going to offer a 32-inch screen and try to be a price leader. So we wanted to avoid that and it takes a kind of differentiation between the two brands, ”Nilakantan said, adding that the usage pattern observed by the brand showed that there is a significant difference between premium and non-premium users. Hence the need for Xiaomi to expand its network with the Redmi brand, which can serve these users.
He noted that while there might be some product similarity between Redmi and Mi TV at first, as the strategy develops further, the company would introduce a clear differentiation between the product range.
It also plans to target a different segment of users under the Redmi TV brand. The target audience will be those who are looking for their first television, those who have just got their first job and live in a shared space with their roommates. In contrast, the Mi TV brand will target the more experienced buyer, such as those who live with their family.
The reason Xiaomi sees an opportunity is also because smart TVs are still a novelty in many Indian households. “There are 170 million households in India that have a television and most still use older televisions. Only 20 million households have a smart TV, which is a very recent phenomenon. So we see an opportunity to grow and push the limits, “he explained.
He also emphasized that just as the Redmi smartphone brand relies on “honest prices, good specs and quality,” the TV brand will also “assimilate this philosophy.”
But how does Xiaomi want to differentiate between the Redmi and Mi TVs? The company notes that the main areas of differentiation in television will be display, audio and design.
For example, while the more premium Mi TVs have QLED and are compatible with various HDR formats, the same may not extend to Redmi TVs. From a design perspective, the more premium metal body and slim design profile could be limited to the Mi TV brand.
However, Xiaomi insists that the company does not plan to create differentiations for the simple fact of doing so. “We are trying to figure out how we can have different products that suit people at different stages of life,” he emphasized.
According to Counterpoint Research, Xiaomi is the market leader in the smart TV segment. A report from the first quarter of 2021 placed the company’s share at 27 percent in the segment ahead of global players such as LG and Samsung, which were at 14 percent and 10 percent respectively. Clearly, the company has control over the smart TV market, although there is growing competition from brands like TCL, which are also launching many affordable options.
The Redmi TV brand will run Xiaomi’s Patchwall OS, which is also present on Mi TV. They will also be eligible for service on the company’s existing network of 750 service centers. At the launch of the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max, the company showed a sneak peek for the upcoming TV, and has now confirmed that it will launch on March 17.