It was filled with acrimony, mistrust and a total lack of transparency when it lasted, but now it looks like Xiaomi’s temporarily discontinuing sales of Redmi Note 3 in India.
UPDATE: A few hours after the article was published, the company has tweeted that it will hold a sale at 2 pm on May 4. It did not say how many units will be sold. The sale will happen here and on Amazon. To register on Amazon, go to its Redmi Note 3 page.
—- end of update —-
After selling what it claims was a ‘big number’ of Redmi Notes in India on Wednesday, the company is yet to come up with the date for the next sale. Usually, the date for the next event is given even before a sale ends.
Instead, the regular registration page has replaced by one that brags about how strong the demand is for the model and how many registrations the model got within the first five hours of being introduced in the country etc.. (see on the right) (UPDATE: Amazon has since changed the page to allow for registrations – see below.)
FUMBLES AND STUMBLES
The Note3 sale must go down in India’s online retail history as one of the worst managed high-profile events ever.
The problems started right from the beginning, with the company giving absolutely no idea to would-be buyers about how many units it was planning to make available or by when. As a result, two months after the 32-GB device started ‘selling’ in India, the vast majority of those who signed up to buy it for the first sale in early March still haven’t got their hands on it.
And the problem is not one of poor demand.
As Xiaomi accepted late last month, they have not been able to bring supplies of the 32 GB phone.
It is estimated that the company sold only about 2,000-4,000 units in the first month — an abysmally small number considering that demand was close to a million. At that kind of demand, 4,000 units is not even 1%.
The company then promised it would improve supplies in April, and conducted a couple more of weekly sales, including two days on which the product was sold without registration on its website in India.
However, from the consumer’s perspective, the experience was the same. The stocks were getting sold out in the blink of an eye, and Xiaomi continued to maintain silence about how many units it was putting up for sale and how many got sold.
In comparison, all other brands openly reveal the number of units they are bringing to India and how many were sold.
The Redmi Note 3 sale is starting to look much like the Mi3 sale that happened two years ago. The Mi3 too started on a high, with fans going crazy about the phone.
However, the enthusiasm soon turned into despair when they realized that only 10,000-20,000 units were being sold per month.
Worse, the company abruptly stopped the weekly sales routine even though many were still waiting for the device.
It later conducted a couple of sales when stocks were available, but by then many had already opted for other models. The Note3 too could go that way with an erratic timeline that depends purely on surplus stock availability.
While some of the problems faced by the company — such as a lack of transparent and poor pricing — is of its own making, the brand is also facing larger issues.
The company missed its target for 2015 by a wide margin, managing only about 70 mln phones against a target of 100 mln. Though not obvious from the fervent demand for Note3 in India, things haven’t been all that rosy for the brand in the new year either.
During the first three months of this year, Xiaomi was overtaken by two other brands — Vivo and Oppo, and was pushed out of the top five category, according to market tracker IDC.
During this period, Vivo saw its shipments more than double to 14.3 mln, while Oppo’s phone shipments almost trebled from 7.3 mln a year ago to 18.5 mln in the first quarter this year.
This is in contrast to Xiaomi’s performance, which used to sell an average of 17.5 mln phones per quarter last year, but has fallen to the 11-13 mln range this year.
In other words, while others have been doubling their sales, Xiaomi saw a decline in the first quarter, going by IDC data.
Part of the problem is that there is not the same kind of demand for smartphones in China as last year.
However, that can partly be addressed by shifting focus to places like India and Africa, where demand is still strong. Yet, the company has, for some mysterious reason, been unable to provide supplies to the Indian market as well.