Q2 2014 results from Strategy Analytics say that Chinese brand, Xiaomi, is now the 5th largest smartphone maker globally. 5th. And they did it without investing one cent in the US market. Since 2011, I wondered what Nokia and BlackBerry were on about with respect to their crave in recent times to win the US market. See my articles, Does RIM/BlackBerry Need To Win The American Market?, What Shall It Profit a Brand to Gain the US and Lose the World? and One business lesson from the smartphone bloodbath.
Both of them clearly had their strengths elsewhere – South America, Africa, Middle Easta dn Asia. Yet, they invested sweat and blood in appeasing the American smartphone market. And both failed at it. Till today, Nokia’s recent successes have been elsewhere but the US market, though a huge chunk of their energy has been channelled into digging in there. Just imagine if they had spent those resources in the areas of their strength instead. Same goes for BlackBerry.
When low on resources or in a weak position, the ideal move is to focus on your strengths and your easy markets to build momentum. Then, when much stronger, take on the tougher places. This is exactly what Xiaomi has done. By the time the Chinese brand decides to tackle Western markets, including the US, it would be from a new position of strength. Yes; the huge Chinese market was/is a leverage for them. Still, they followed the principle: use your areas of strength to build momentum first. That’s how to win. Imagine if Xiaomi had spent resources on getting a footing in the US first. We wouldn’t be having this discussion today.
I remember someone responded to me last year with the following statement, “Emerging markets will not save anybody. Let us stop deluding ourselves.” Tell that to Xiaomi and a host of others who are blossoming in emerging markets alone. China is a country of hugely poor people. Too often, we underestimate the power at the base of the pyramid. Eventually, emerging markets will save the world. Quote me.
The number 5 smartphone maker by shipments. And not a dollar invested in the US or other Western market. Amazing. Be sure to do one thing: keep your eyes on Xiaomi for when they will make a move for a global reach. In the meantime, when do we start getting Xiaomi smartphones here in Nigeria? Huawei is here. Lenovo is here. [In MFM prayer tone] What are you still waiting for?!
FYI: the top 5 smartphone makers globally currently are: 1) Samsung; 2) Apple; 3) Huawei; 4) Lenovo; 5) Xiaomi. See the trend? Of the top 5, three are Chinese. China Rising.