Xiaomi, the break-out smartphone star of the Greater China market, is receiving lots of attention thanks to the somewhat salacious tale of ex-Android VP Hugo Barra and his recent move to the Chinese company. Xiaomi is looking to sell around 20 million smartphones by the end of 2013, and is doing so well that it’s challenging Samsung, a formerly dominant force among OEMs, at home in China. The company sees tight margins on hardware – intentionally – but it might have another ace up its sleeve in terms of appealing to potential international carrier partners.
Tech-Thoughts.net’s Sameer Singh was intrigued by recent statements made by Xiaomi CEO Bin Lin, who revealed that its customers are twice as active on the mobile web as those of any other OEMs. Numbers available publicly from the company detailing downloads from its MIUI app store show that the company has already managed 1 billion downloads in just over a year of operation, and Xiaomi also claims a rate of downloads of 5 million per day, the company claims.
Using those figures, and comparing it to those available from Apple and Google about their own download milestones, Singh is able to figure out that Xiaomi users are installing new applications on their devices at a rate of nearly twice that of their competitors using either the App Store or Google Play. Xiaomi phone owners average around 26.5 million apps downloaded per quarter per device, while those in Apple and Google’s mobile software ecosystem average around 13 to 15 million titles downloaded in the same span per gadget.
Xiaomi runs s skinned version of Android, which means if it ships overseas it’ll likely lean more heavily on the Google Play store than on its own MIUI application marketplace in order to offer up more localized content, and Singh also notes that with a wider, more mainstream user base, those app install numbers are likely to fall. But if Xiaomi can replicate some of that additional app-download juice in other markets, it’ll be able to offer up an additional incentive to carrier partners, too.
The key to convincing international carriers to take a gamble on yet another smartphone OEM, and to push those products alongside and above surer bets like Samsung and Apple hardware, will be convincing carriers that it’s in their best interest to do so, and that means convincing them that it’s possible to get a higher ARPU from Xiaomi smartphones than from anything else. Higher app and mobile we use mean more data used (and more pricey data consumed), which, paired with lower subsidy costs thanks to cheaper wholesale hardware prices, could make Xiaomi a very attractive alternative indeed.