Xiaomi is back in Africa and isn’t pulling any punches this time. Also expect to see Redmi Go smartphones soon.
Xiaomi has had a troubled history with selling in Nigeria. After introducing the Redmi 2 and Mi 4 in the country in 2015, the Chinese brand ran into trouble over legal disputes about the use of the Mi tradename in the country (read this, and this). Then Xiaomi smartphones began to appear in retail stores around the country in 2017, but they soon disappeared after that.
The smartphone maker has run into similar troubles in Africa as a whole as Mi-fone, an African mobile brand, has tackled them over the use of the Mi name on the continent.
Mi-fone largely won that battle, effectively keeping Xiaomi at bay. But the African smartphone maker lost the bigger battle of staying in business. The Mi-fone mobile phone business put up a good fight to push its made-in-Africa phones in countries around the continent. But it is now history.
Hopefully, this has paved way for Xiaomi to move in again. The company has created an African division for its operations on the continent.
Xiaomi up against TECNO, Infinix and itel
If I got a dollar each time I have been told that one smartphone brand or the other is taking on the Transsion Trio of TECNO, Infinix, and itel in Nigeria, I would be a billionaire by now.
Oh, Huawei is taking on Transsion. Oppo is taking on Transsion. Such pronouncements make for great headlines and stories, but the reality on ground is that neither Huawei nor Oppo possesses the profile to effectively do battle with those three brands.
Looking at the specs to price profile of the current Huawei and OPPO phones in Nigeria, for example, it is clear that those brands are overpriced compared to Transsion brands.
And without any other unique selling proposition, there is no fight at all. It is a walkover. Plis, the sub-$100 smartphone market is firmly in the hands of itel. Show me one sub-$100 Huawei or OPPO smartphone on sale in Nigeria or Africa as a whole.
There you go. No fight.
But this is Xiaomi, a brand that has thrived on making and selling budget smartphones in low income markets like China and India. So this is BIG news.
Xiaomi to launch Redmi Go phones
The name sounds like an entry level class of smartphones running Android Go Edition software.
Do you get the implication of this if it is true?
Sub-$100 Xiaomi Smartphones!
That is the implication: we will see a new range of Xiaomi smartphones that sell below $100 or N35,000. Imagine a N25,000 Redmi phone that you can purchase by walking into stores in Lagos.
This would mean that Xiaomi will have a class of phones that can take on itel smartphones in the market. Redmi Go would also be able to take on both TECNO and Infinix at the entry level. Transsion would finally have competition in the sub-$100 market.
Xiaomi would truly be able to take on Transsion at all levels – low-end and mid-range, in Africa and elsewhere (hint: India).
No other smartphone brand operating on the continent has the capacity to pull that off. The launch of Redmi Go smartphones as Xiaomi returns to Africa would truly be a gamechanger in market dynamics.
It will be no guarantee of an upset, but it will change the playing field very drastically.
Wakanda Waiting For Xiaomi
Xiaomi lovers around the continent have been clamouring for their beloved brand to show up and now it looks like all hurdles are out of the way. Xiaomi just might take on Africa with a big bang.
Are you excited about the news of Xiaomi’s second coming and the prospects of Redmi Go smartphones, or are you indifferent? Let’s hear you.
Founder of MobilityArena. Yomi’s journey in mobile started in 2001. Besides obsessing over mobile phones, he also started creating WAP sites (early mobile-friendly websites created with WML). He began writing about phones in 2004 and has been at it since then. He has owned over 200 devices, from Symbian, Palm, PocketPC/Windows Mobile, BlackBerry/BB10, webOS, Windows Phone, Firefox, Ubuntu Touch, to Android, iOS, and KaiOS operating systems.