Xiaomi Launches Its Own Text Message Service

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Users on Xiaomi devices will now be able to send international text messages faster and more reliably, it said. The Chinese smartphone maker just announced its enterprise international SMS platform at the Mobile Asia Expo event in Shanghai.

The new service looks like it’ll rival Apple’s iMessage service in function, but is based entirely on SMS technology. That means that while iMessage requires a data or Wi-Fi connection, Xiaomi messages will go through SAP’s global gateway of over 990 operators globally, an SAP representative said.

It will also likely be more reliable, because fewer packets are required to transmit SMS compared with data-based messages such as those exchanged over WhatsApp or iMessage. That means it’s more likely to send successfully if you have patchy connectivity, and will work if you’re traveling with data roaming switched off.

SAP also said that the service won’t be an extra subscription for users since it’s based on SMS. Messages sent will just come out of your regular SMS quota or be charges as ordinary text messages.

Xiaomi’s service is built on SAP’s SMS 365 platform (which SAP acquired by purchasing enterprise messaging company Sybase in 2010 for $5.8 billion). Prior to its acquisition, Sybase was one of the world’s largest SMS and MMS exchanges in the world. In 2010, it delivered messages at a rate of 32,000 per second all year round.

Xiaomi also has a consumer messaging app called Mi Talk is a closer rival to Whatsapp and WeChat. It has a relatively small base compared with the latter two, however. Mi Talk reportedly has about 23 million registered users, while WeChat has 300 million—and 50 million of those active monthly. WhatsApp has 200 million active monthly users.

The launch of the messaging service follows Xiaomi’s recent launch outside of its home country to neighboring Taiwan and Hong Kong. The smartphone maker is known for its powerful but relatively low-priced smartphones. The company’s newly launched flagship, the Mi-2S, is priced at just $373 (RMB 2299).

Xiaomi reportedly makes 10 percent profit on its handsets, which exceeds the margins of other domestic players like Huawei, ZTE and Lenovo.