Brazil is our next market, India is hugely demanding; Xiaomi’s Hugo Barra speaks out
From being an ordinary Chinese start-up who popped up minutes ago, Xiaomi has climbed up the ladder to become one of the most feared companies in the mobile phone business.
Hugo Barra, the man who famously left his mantle position at Google as the chief of the Android department, has been quite vital in Xiaomi’s success, especially outside in foreign markets. Barra recently granted us an interview and here are some of the excerpts:
Would you invest in Indian startups?
Yes, we are looking at investing. We will look at the software and hardware space to start with, as we will be looking for synergies. We will look to taking smaller stakes.
How do you feel about the technology-companies in India?
I am a huge fan of both InMobi and Flipkart and of Sachin (Bhansal) and Naveen (Tewari). They built the Silicon Valley grade teams in Bangalore. Similarly, I encountered few really great startups here. Today, India has the same number of internet users as China did in 2007.Growth of internet in India is going to be faster than in China. I feel extremely privileged to be here to witness the flourishing of the technological ecosystem in India. It is finally moving from the outsourcing IT shop model to a local product development model.
What was the biggest hurdle you faced, being a Chinese brand?
I think the challenges will be the same for any company to learn the business strategies and how to communicate to customers. Indian customers are the most demanding that I have ever encountered my entire life–incredibly value conscious, brand conscious and demand high quality for expensive things. The smallest details matters a lot. I love that because it raises the bar for us. It has really helped us push ourselves harder .
Would you launch a product in India first?
We are open to implementing and taking things that succeed here, to other markets. For example, we are about to push a new over-the-air system update. Our testing teams in all our markets have said OK. We have a beta group (a group of Xiaomi enthusiasts) only in India. Till the beta group says ok, we won’t release it.
How many employees will you hire for the R&D centre you are developing here?
We have two product managers already. But hiring engineers is incredibly difficult. For instance, if we have to hire 200 engineers by the year end, I’m 100% sure we won’t be able to meet it because for every engineer to be hired, a 100 need to be tested.
What else do you plan to market?
Brazil is probably our next. The core team is already built, and they are working through all the operational elements. Brazil is a very bureaucratic market.
Xiaomi is planning to put up 60,000 smartphones on sale tomorrow. On Flipkart, users have to face a battle of the fittest to see who can lay hands on these Redmi 1s smartphones before the stock goes out.
Registration for the flash sale is ongoing and Flipkart will shut the door close by 11:59PM tonight. Xiaomi Redmi 1s is priced 5,999 in this particular round of sales and free SIM card adapters will be given out to users who successfully make a purchase.
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