The Redmi brand, synonymous with Xiaomi’s smartphone success in India, is getting ready to expand into smart TVs, gradually helping the mother brand differentiate over price segments. Eshwar Nilakantan, Category Lead for Smart TV at Xiaomi India told indianexpress.com that the products have been designed and are built for scratch in India and will be manufactured in the country.
“When we launched Mi TVs in India, apart from certain number commitments, the big goal was to disrupt the smart TV landscape in this country… how can we make it more affordable and get it in more households. So far we have shipped five million TVs, 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 which are in China. These are developed exclusively for India. Remember, there is no Android TV in China, No netflix, No Amazon Prime, so no certification requirements, which are needed in India. And this is not just for Xiaomi but other players also,” he explained.
The announcement also comes as the Mi TV brand tries to offer more premium products. For instance, the company launched a QLED TV under Mi TV branding 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 one at Rs 15,999.
“We also realised that it is becoming difficult to move up the premium ladder if Mi TV is going to offer a 32-inch and try to be a price leader. So we wanted to avoid that and there is a kind of differentiation needed between the two brands,” Nilakantan said, adding that usage pattern observed by the brand showed that there is a significant difference between the premium and non-premium users. Thus the need for Xiaomi to widen its net with the Redmi brand, which can cater to these users.
He did note that while early on there might be some product similarity between Redmi and Mi TVs, as the strategy develops further, the company would introduce a clear differentiation between the range of products.
It also plans to target a different segment of users under the Redmi TV brand. The target audience will be those looking for their first TV, those who have just got their first job and are living in a shared space with their roommates. In contrast, the Mi TV brand will target the more experienced buyer, such as those living with their family.
The reason why Xiaomi sees an opportunity is also because smart TVs are still a novelty item in many homes in India. “There are 170 million homes in India which have a TV and a majority are still on older TVs. Only 20 million homes have a smart TV, which is a very recent phenomena. So we see an opportunity to grow and push the envelope,” he explained.
He also stressed that just like the Redmi smartphone brand is built on “honest pricing, good specifications and quality,” the TV brand will also “imbibe this philosophy.”
But how will Xiaomi differentiate between Redmi and Mi TVs? The company notes that the main areas for differentiation in TV will be around display, audio, and design.
For instance, while the more premium Mi TVs have QLED and support for various HDR formats, the same might 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 the company is not planning to create differentiations just for the sake of it. “We are trying to figure out how we can have different products which are catering to people at different life stages,” he stressed.
According to Counterpoint Research, Xiaomi is the market leader in the smart TV segment. A report for the first quarter of 2021, put the company’s share at 27 per cent in the segment ahead of global players such as LG and Samsung, which were at 14 percent and 10 percent respectively. So clearly, the company has a grip on the smart TV market, though there is growing competition from brands like TCL, which are also launching plenty of affordable options.
The Redmi TV brand will run the Patchwall OS from Xiaomi, which is also present on the Mi TV. They will also be eligible for service at the company’s existing network of 750 service centres. At the launch of the Redmi Note 10 Pro Max, the company showcased a teaser for the upcoming TV, and it has now confirmed that this will be launch on March 17.