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MANILA, Philippines – Back in 2015, upstart Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi left the Philippines and reallocated its resources to a much bigger market: India. Today, it has returned to the Philippines with a larger workforce and a conservative expansion plan.
Xiaomi, now the world’s 4th largest smartphone maker, hosted a press launch on Tuesday, March 13, to introduce new phones for the Philippines as well as its partnerships with online shopping giants Lazada and Shopee.
“In the beginning, our headquarters only had a thousand people. For a thousand people to run a multibillion-dollar business is impossible. Instead of [being present] everywhere, we decided to just go big in one place,” John Chen, director for Southeast Asia at Xiaomi, told reporters on the sidelines of the launch in Makati City.
“That is why back in 2015, we decided to go to India and grow our market there,” he added. (READ: Top 5 highest-selling smartphone makers in the world for Q3 2017)
India has a larger population with a smaller market penetration compared to the Philipppines.
“We have seen the success in the last few years. In India, we are number one. Now, we are confident that our plan will work in other countries,” Chen said.
In the final quarter of 2017, Korean giant Samsung Electronics lost the pole position in India to Xiaomi, data from research firm Counterpoint showed.
From 1,000 to 10,000
From a thousand employees in 2010, Xiaomi now has more than 10,000 staff, handling operations in over 70 countries and regions. In Southeast Asia, Chen said Xiaomi operates in the Philippines, Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, and Laos.
“The Philippines has been on my radar for some time because internally, our organization also has developments. That’s why we want to come back to the Philippines and make sure there’s a steady growth,” he added.
Xiaomi plans to set up 5 authorized stores in the Philippines this year. The Chinese phone maker already has stores in TriNoma in Quezon City and SM Megamall in Mandaluyong City.
“We are looking at another one in Manila and possibly another two in other cities, probably in Cebu and in Davao,” Chen told reporters.
The Xiaomi official said the tech firm also plans to talk with the country’s telecommunications giants, PLDT Incorporated and Globe Telecom Incorporated, for possible partnerships.
“We are looking for ways to work with them, [to check] whether we can get some exclusive offers for them. It is something we will do this year,” Chen said.
Xiaomi also introduced its Redmi lineup of budget smartphones, the Redmi 5A (P4,590) and the Redmi 5 Plus (P9,990).
It was just in 2010 when the Chinese startup started selling relatively cheap smartphones on the internet – around the time the iPhone 4 was released.
“We didn’t set a limit on how far we wanna grow. In all markets, we want to be number one. But what’s important for us is we’re doing right instead of just asking the numbers. We want to do things in [the] right way to achieve our targets,” Chen added.
Asked if Xiaomi is targeting to be the market leader in the Philippines, Chen replied: “Worldwide, we are the only brand that is currently seeing a growth. Customers are smart. They are continuously searching for the best value in the market. We are not afraid of the competition. I think our only competitor is ourselves.” – Rappler.com