India

Xiaomi needs the POCO brand now more than ever

Trying to meet everyone’s expectations

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Xiaomi is celebrating five years in India and they’ve announced a special sale across a huge selection of products. In the last five years, the brand has grabbed the number one spot in terms of market share, dethroning legacy giants like Samsung. How did a young brand like Xiaomi start from nothing and go on to lead the market?

The Chinese-brand entered India in 2014 and has always maintained a consistent track record of launching near-perfect phones that don’t cost a bomb. The Redmi brand in India slowly developed on the back of successful series like the Note. This one series helped the brand in establishing market supremacy in the budget midrange collection.

Then the brand cautiously went into the entry-level smartphone segment and started dominating that as well. Not only did the brand offer exceedingly competitive prices, but also flooded the market with options that covered every possible price point. We can safely call this a blitzkrieg-style strategy that overwhelmed the competitors as well as the users with products.

Xiaomi did try to launch a few flagship phones like the Mi 5, but they received a lukewarm response. The Redmi brand is synonymous with affordable phones in India, how do you break the threshold limit of INR 20,000 (US$ 290) and launch a flagship?

The importance of POCO

POCO (Pocophone in international markets) was the answer. A new sub-brand let them create a new ideology around the products and consumer expectations could be gauged. The POCO F1 started at just INR 19,999 (US$ 290) and boasted a flagship-grade Snapdragon 845 processor. This was a deal-breaker for everyone.

A new report by the Economic Times says Xiaomi could soon kill the POCO brand. It cites a few top-level exits as contributing factors, along with the recent Redmi K20 launch. It emphasizes how Redmi and Mi are now a definite position from Xiaomi and POCO was overlapping.

This is where I tend to disagree. The Redmi K20 and K20 Pro have received a lot of backlash from consumers because they feel the phones are overpriced. A constant comparison is drawn between the K20 and Realme X. The K20 starts at INR 21,999 (US$ 319) and the K20 Pro starts at INR 27,999 (US$ 406).

Let’s get one thing straight, the phones aren’t overpriced. In fact, considering what they offer, the price is on point and continues Xiaomi’s legacy of offering competitive rates. Things went wrong on the marketing front.

Users have been expecting a POCO F1 successor soon, and Xiaomi has been teasing the K20 Pro for months. The company intended the K20 Pro to be a OnePlus 7 killer, but the buyers expected a POCO-like offering.

Considering the amount of bad press Xiaomi has received, killing off the POCO brand will only add fuel to the fire. And on the flip side, a POCO F2 launch will actually douse the fire and help Xiaomi in maintaining control over all price points. The company has raised everyone’s expectations so high, it’s finding it hard to keep up with them.

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Google launches virtual visiting profile called People Cards

Time to google yourself!

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Have you ever googled yourself? If not, this new feature on Google search will surely prompt you to give it a shot. The search engine wants to make it easier to find new people and has unveiled a new feature in India called People Cards.

People Cards act like your virtual visiting card. If someone’s looking for you on Google, they’ll usually come across a few social media profile links or any other online content you’re associated with. Thanks to the new card, you can directly control how much information you want to keep up front.

The feature is limited to the mobile app for now. To set up your own card, all you need is an active mobile number and a Google account. It’s also limited to India for the time being and only supports English.

To create your own card, just:

  • Open the Google app on your phone.
  • Search for “add me to Search.”
  • You’ll immediately see a prompt to set up your card and after mobile number authentication, you’re all set.

You can enter brief details about yourself, add a bio, link social media profiles, and even make it easier to connect with you by publishing your email, website, or mobile number.

While the feature makes discovering people easy, it also opens a floodgate of privacy concerns. Spammers can easily collect information from the partially open system. We advise our readers to proceed with caution and ensure they’re not divulging any personal details.

Individuals who have already created their cards can opt-out of the experience anytime. In the case of people who share the same name, Google Search will show multiple modules.

The search giant says it has a number of mechanisms to fight spam and abuse. Only one card can be created by an account and you can flag a card in case of false information or an imposter.

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India

Mi TV Stick turns any TV into a smart TV

Why get a new TV when you can transform the old one

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Today Xiaomi launched the Mi TV Stick in India. It’s a simple HDMI thumb drive that can turn any TV into a smart TV. The brand had announced it globally in July, along with the Mi Electric Scooter Pro 2, the Mi Smart Band 5. However, India is yet to see get the latter.

Coming back to the Mi TV Stick, it runs on Android TV 9. With an onboard processor, the stick can turn any HDMI-enabled TV into a smart TV. The plug and play factor can be attractive for frequent travelers who can seamlessly connect to their “television” on the go in any hotel room.

Although, the Mi TV Stick is built for a different audience. According to a February 2020 report by Cisco, TV would be the second biggest medium to connect to the internet by 2023. For a developing country like India, the low-cost factor plays a crucial role.

It sports a quad-core Cortex-A53 CPU and an ARM Mali-450 GPU, along with 1GB RAM and 8GB storage. It’s powered by a micro-USB port and connects to the TV via an HDMI port.

It can stream up to Full HD at 60fps. The Mi TV Stick comes with support for apps like Netflix, YouTube, Prime Video, Disney+ Hotstar, and more. The apps can be downloaded via Google Play Store. It also comes with a Bluetooth remote, which does not need to be pointed towards the device to operate.

The Mi TV Stick is priced at INR 2,999 (US$ 40) and will be available via Flipkart, Mi.com, and Mi Stores from August 7. However, if you want to stream content 4K resolution, you can get the Mi TV Box 4K priced at INR 3,999 (US$ 53). Xiaomi’s offering will go up against Amazon’s Fire Stick, which is priced at INR 3,999.

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India

Redmi 9 Prime launches with quad-cameras and Helio G80

Realme should be worried

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After a brief sabbatical, Xiaomi is back with its blitzkrieg strategy. The company has gradually announced the Redmi 9 series in India, covering every possible price segment. Going after the affordable segment, it has now launched the Redmi 9 Prime and it’ll go up against the Realme 5i and Narzo 10A.

At first glance, the design of the phone looks identical to the POCO X2. However, it has substantial changes including a water-drop notch, rounded edges, and a rear-mounted fingerprint scanner. The back has a gradient color with a ripple texture that adds to the premium feel.

On the front is a 6.5-inch Full HD+ display with Gorilla Glass 3 protection and TÜV Rheinland low blue light certification. Powering the phone is a MediaTek Helio G80 processor with 4GB RAM. Storage is expandable via a microSD card.

The rear sports a quad-camera setup consisting of a 13-megapixel primary sensor, an 8-megapixel wide-angle lens, a 5-megapixel macro sensor, and a 2-megapixel depth sensor. For selfies, an 8-megapixel camera is located on the front.

Backing these internals is a 5020mAh battery that supports 18W fast charging. Although, the in-box charger is rated for 10W only. In line with all other Redmi phones, it ships with MIUI 11 out-of-the-box and supports face unlock.

The Redmi 9 Prime has two configurations available. The 4GB+64GB option costs INR 9,999 and the 4GB+128GB variant costs INR 11,999. The phone shall be available from August 17 via Amazon, Mi.com, Mi Stores, and other offline partners. Color options include Space Blue, Mint Green, Matte Black, and Sunrise Flare.

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