Chinese electronics manufacturer Xiaomi have finally ended months of speculation by officially announcing its intentions to launch in Pakistan with analysts suggesting that this move represents the firm’s ambition to restart its global expansion.
The Chinese gadget manufacturer has expanded at a pedestrian since its 2011 debut in China. Xiaomi, which is headquartered in Beijing – focused initially on Southeast Asia, India and parts of the Middle East and Brazil – and its proposed entry into Pakistan is the company’s largest since that move to South America in 2015.
The declaration from Xiaomi finally ends months of official denials from the firm – Pakistan is the world’s sixth most populous country in the world, and represents a potentially lucrative market for the Chinese smartphone maker.
Like its introduction to Brazil, Xiaomi will enter Pakistan through a distribution partnership – with Rocket Internet’s e-commerce marketplace Daraz which is present in locations such as Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.
Jack Yung, Sales director for Xiaomi, in South Asia, disclosed that three models will be introduced to the market on an initial basis – coupled with plans to make its budget Redmi Note 4 and Redmi 4A also available.
Chinese smartphones have had a presence in Pakistan for a number of years - brands such as Huawei and Oppo have enjoyed success in the region. Part of their marketing strategy was to use celebrities and sporting personalities to push their products, while also embarking on extensive billboard advertising and primetime spots on national television.
Analysts feel Xiaomi could find it difficult to penetrate the market in Pakistan, its introduction will be met with a wave of publicity and fanfare – but with its insistence on selling exclusively online it may find it hard to carve out a space for itself. In Pakistan, most shopping is done offline; some estimates of the e-commerce sector vary between US$40 million and US$50 million. So, unless Xiaomi decides to change tact and place its phones and gadgets in retail outlets, then it may face challenges.
Pakistan is adding one million 3G/4G connections every month, and smartphone imports increased by a whopping 124% in the first quarter of 2015, according to data provided by the IDC. However, still large parts of the country’s vast population remains off line, so there is a large demand for cheap, sturdy, 3G phones in the marketplace.