I was one of the early Mi Fans. I used to swear by Xiaomi when it came to making cool devices and putting them in the hands of everyone. I grew even more enamored when I saw and experienced first hand the approachable friendliness and open conversations that Hugo Barra and Manu Kumar Jain made quite literally a trademark of. I went around recommending Mi and Redmi devices to everyone I knew and began to be called the “Mi Man” in my circles. Whenever there was a meet up with Xiaomi India, my eyes lit up in anticipation. But why the “was” in the first sentence? Am I not a fan anymore?
Sadly and very painfully, I have to admit that I am not a Mi Fan anymore. From a time when everyone in my family had Mi devices to this, it has been a rapid fall. Why do I feel disappointed? The reasons are many, I will split them into two – as a tech blogger and as a user.
As a tech blogger, I must say that over the last eight months, the accessibility of Xiaomi as a brand has gone down drastically. The very same blogger community that welcomed you with open arms and celebrated you is now ignored and invisible to you to put it lightly. Getting a look at a device that you launch has become a pipe dream, review units are sent out to some sort of a graded list of techies. And the penchant that is being shown by you to people who shower you with superlatives seems to have replaced the vast and unbiased access that you gave us to your devices. Gone are the days when I could email Hugo or Manu and expect a response. there seems to be an eerie silence that I get as a response to most thing.
I have a question for you, do you think that it looks good when one set of people repeatedly gets access for reviews and constantly calls you the great xxxx of smartphones where xxxx is a recycled pop-culture based adjective that is irrelevant in context to a smartphone? It doesn’t! People look at this and actually start questioning your credibility as a brand! When media coverage centers around your office decor and how you are boisterous when you are in India and abroad you were subdued, it causes pain to people like me who were nothing short of brand advocates! Moreover, even technically, you have put me in a corner with the slew of underwhelming devices that you seem to earmark for India every time. I am unable to defend that with anyone.
As a mobile user, the fact that you are still running these ludicrous flash sales with the “studying the Indian market” excuse is a HUGE worry! I also saw that Hugo had said “Do you think an open sale will sell out any less faster?” and this is where the problem is! While other brands are selling phones online and offline day in and day out, you are selling a very low percentage of devices compared to the number of registrations every week. This just unacceptable for a brand that has been around for a while now in India. The point was never about how fast it sells out, it is about putting the right number of devices on sale that is somewhere near the actual number of people who want it – in short, supply chain management.
Every device released in India by you has a bigger and meaner cousin in China that never sees the light of the day here. The biggest issue you have today is this, you go around claiming that India is part of your DNA and then do this! Why would Indians like me be happy with it? The unhealthy trend of “torture” tests that your top management is actively promoting on all social channels is counter productive! I can’t for the life of me imagine any average user running his bike or car over a phone regularly and then check if it works! Why resort to these tactics? Didn’t your devices speak for themselves earlier?
And off late, we are seeing a lot of horror stories emerge out of after sale support. Too many to shove under the rug. Add the fact that MIUI is two android versions behind most devices and you have a recipe for disaster.
I know that this post might get me off the list for Xiaomi, but hey, I was never fully and truly on it to begin with! I write this because I see Xiaomi as Rahul Dravid and not Atul Bedade!
Hopefully you’ll think about this