Xiaomi Phone Almost Passes The iPhone to Become Best Selling Phone in China This Year

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Chinese low-end smartphone maker Xiaomi has announced that they will team up with China Unicom to offer the Xiaomi Phone through the telecom operator, just like what Apple did. And guess what, the company sold out all of its inventory of 100,000 Xiaomi phones in three hours when the company started a new round of online sales. This record is definitely comparable to what Apple achieved for the sales of iPhone 4 or 4S.

Xiaomi Phone Sales Topped 100,000 in First 3 Hours

Previously, Xiaomi’s phones are only being shipped to customers who preordered them early this fall. For those customers who do not want to get the phone though a preorder number, the company has started another round of online sales on December 18. Amazingly, the company sold out all of its inventory of 100,000 Xiaomi phones three hours after it was launched on the firm’s website on Dec. 18, and that’s definitely a better rate of sales comparing to the iPhone 4 record of 600,000 units sold in a single day. A Xiaomi fan, who failed to place an order, said,

“Xiaomi fans wait through round after round [of sales], the way Xiaomi does things really is a bit irresponsible. I hope Mr. Lei (Xiaomi CEO) and Xiaomi’s workers can work quickly and well to do a real open sale and be responsible to everyone,”

Well, some Xiaomi fans are disappointed, and there’s no word from Xiaomi on when the next sale would be. But at least the sales proved one thing: Xiaomi Phone could be as popular as Apple’s iPhone in China.

Xiaomi Inked A Deal with China Unicom to Sell Subsidized Xiaomi Phone

Fortunately, there’s another place to purchase the Xiaomi Phone if you missed the chance to buy it online. Rumors have been swirling about a cooperation between China Unicom (the world’s third-largest carrier and Apple’s sole iPhone partner in China), and Xiaomi. Recently, Xiaomi’s CEO Lei Jun announced at the company’s press conference that they will cooperate with China Unicom to offer a custom-made Xiaomi handset through the telecom giant.

Previously, the Xiaomi Phone was available only via Xiaomi’s website, and has only rarely been in stock. Today, Xiaomi Phone will be available on contracts with China Unicom, and this is actually a very good news for Xiaomi, according to Wang Ying, an industry analyst with Internet consulting firm Analysys International,

“The cooperation with China Unicom will help Xiaomi expand its customer base from high-tech enthusiasts to the mass market, and the company’s involvement in application services can also give it an advantage in competing with other domestic players,”

The Xiaomi Phone will go for ¥2699 (about $421) through China Unicom stores (up to 4,000!), but will be cheaper if purchased with either a ¥186 (about $29) monthly plan for two years or a ¥126 (about $20) monthly plan for three years. For customers who do not want to purchase the phone with contract, they can visit Xiaomi’s official online store to spend ¥1,999 (about $315) to buy the phone without a contract. However, the problem is no one knows when the Xiaomi Phone will go on sale again on Xiaomi’s website. Even if it goes on sale, the phone may be sold out in a few hours.

How Exactly Xiaomi Phone Could Surpass iPhone in China

Launched in August, Xiaomi Phone stands out among domestic competitors as the first Chinese handset to use a dual-core 1.5G Qualcomm chip, and it also boasts a four-inch touchscreen, bigger than most smartphones, including Apple’s iPhone. What’s more, the tempting price of ¥1,999 ($310) is two times cheaper than the iPhone! You may say… surely there must be a tradeoff somewhere for that amazingly-low price, well, you will not have any luck to find this phone outside of China — Xiaomi is only selling its baby online and doesn’t plan on distributing it outside China (even though it’ll play well with AT&T’s 3G network).

With iPhone 4S already launched in several countries, the phone is not yet available in China. Apple’s iPhone 4 is still a big hit in China, but there are more and more Chinese smartphone users choosing Xiaomi Phone as an upgrade from their Nokia Symbian-powered phones. Why? Two reasons. Xiaomi Phone is cheap as hell, one could purchase two Xiaomi phones with the money to purchase an iPhone 4 or 4S. Here’s what a Xiaomi Phone user said,

“It is good to buy a phone with such a high configuration for only 1,999 yuan.”

Secondly, Xiaomi successfully created an illusion of feverish demand for its smartphone. Just like Apple, Xiaomi does not have its own manufacturing facility, it has faced a challenge to produce enough handsets to meet the demand. However, the company told the public that they do not lack stock for the Xiaomi Phone, while customers failed to place an order for it since it’s sold out. Actually, Xiaomi is trying to build hype and mystique by keeping the phones rare, and at the same time, by advertising that the phones weren’t rare. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands — perhaps millions — of people likely tried to buy the Xiaomi Phone but couldn’t, and now they’re telling their friends and coworkers about how quickly the phone sold out. Thus, more and more people will stay tuned for the sale of the Xiaomi Phone, and grab one right away when the phone becomes available in stock.

Our thoughts on Xiaomi? We’re surprised by how far a Chinese startup can get to these days — making a powerful phone that is very affordable and manage to gain a share of the middle- and low-end market in China, and perhaps the high-end smartphone market that is dominated by Apple.

You may not know, Xiaomi actually aims to build itself into a company like Apple that offers hardware, software and also value-added services. However, Xiaomi is currently facing fierce competition from domestic companies. ZTE and Huawei, China’s two largest telecom equipment manufacturers, have also released high-end smartphones (the ZTE Tania and Huawei Honor) recently. Chinese search engine Baidu joined the sector with the launch of its dual-core smartphone. And Meizu, another famous Chinese smartphone maker, is taking on the Xiaomi Phone and other high-end smartphones from major brands with Meizu MX, a smartphone that has the potential to beat the iPhone. So, we think there is still a long way to go before Xiaomi can take on big international names. Anyway, we hope the Xiaomi Phone was available outside of China.

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