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.

India

WhatsApp is suing India’s government over rules that endanger privacy

It’s serious when WhatsApp starts talking about privacy…

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It’s hard to imagine a Facebook-backed service talk about defending privacy. The company has a nasty reputation for handling users’ data, and it’s often considered a dystopian internet giant. But Facebook-owned WhatsApp is now suing the Indian government over new rules that endanger user privacy.

In February, the Indian government introduced new guidelines to regulate content on social media and streaming platforms. The new rules give greater power to monitor online activity, including encrypted apps like Signal and Telegram.

To be more precise, the government wants apps like WhatsApp to identify the originator of a message. The content of the message can remain encrypted, but the user should be traceable. The new rules supersede the existing law — the IT Act. Hence, it becomes impossible for the government to enforce traceability without a law.

And, even if the rule is modeled within the existing law, it’ll pose a massive challenge for encrypted apps. Giving up traceability potentially compromises all its users. WhatsApp says traceability of texts would force companies to collect and store billions of messages sent each day for the sole purpose of turning them over to law enforcement.

WhatsApp’s petition asks the High Court to declare that one of the new rules is a violation of privacy under the constitution of India since it requires social media sites to identify the “first originator of information” when asked for it.

The instant messaging app has over 400 million users in India. Platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Whatsapp were given three months to comply with these rules. Although it’s suing the government, WhatsApp itself has received a lot of criticism due to its recently updated privacy policy.

“Some governments are seeking to force technology companies to find out who sent a particular message on private messaging services. This concept is called ‘traceability’,” said WhatsApp in an online statement. “WhatsApp is committed to doing all we can to protect the privacy of people’s personal messages, which is why we join others in opposing traceability.”

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Indian police visits Twitter India office, finds it closed and empty

When an aging police force meets the Internet

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Twitter

In a bizarre turn of events, Delhi Police visited Twitter India’s office to serve a notice but had to return without finishing the important mission because the office was closed due to the pandemic. All employees are working from home, and the police visit served no purpose.

“The Delhi police team went to the Twitter office to serve a notice to Twitter, as a part of a routine process. This was necessitated as we wanted to ascertain who is the right person to serve a notice, as replies by Twitter India MD have been very ambiguous,” the Delhi Police statement read.

The police entered the picture after the social media platform tagged a tweet from Sambit Patra, who holds no elected office but is the spokesperson of Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP). The party currently has a mandate and runs the Indian government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Patra’s tweet was tagged as “manipulated media” by Twitter last week after claiming that opposition parties had conspired to pressure the government amid a second Coronavirus wave. The opposition party, Indian National Congress (INC), created a document that detailed how the party workers should respond to SOS calls from the public.

 

BJP claims the document listed tips on how to discredit the government. It also asked workers to prioritize help requests from “friendly” media personnel and help only those who tag the INC’s youth handle. It isn’t known whether the document is legitimate or a work of fiction.

When Patra shared a picture of the same document, it was tagged as manipulated media. It’s worth noting that none of the parties can prove the document’s authenticity or whether the image shared on Twitter is doctored.

Despite the lack of proof, Twitter proceeded to tag a tweet as manipulated media, and Delhi Police went on to serve a notice, in turn. In the end, the police became a laughing stock since it tried a very conventional approach of law enforcement in a fully digital world.

This isn’t the first time Twitter has come under fire from the government, and the two have been unable to find a resolution. The Indian government is keen on regulating social media giants but fails to find a viable process. In February, for example, the government ordered Twitter to take down many accounts when protests against the new farm laws were escalating.

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India

Redmi Note 10S launches with Helio G95, 64MP camera

Comes with an upgraded camera

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Just after two months of launching the Redmi Note 10 series, Xiaomi has returned with a successor. The affordable segment plays a crucial part for the company, and the lineup has proven to be a marvel. What’s new in the Redmi Note 10S?

The design is extremely similar to the predecessor, and it’ll be hard to differentiate between the two. Xiaomi calls it EVOL design, and it’s also a part of the Redmi Note 10 Pro series.

On the front, it has a 6.4-inch AMOLED display with Full HD+ resolution with a standard 60Hz refresh rate. Powering the phone is a Mediatek Helio G95 processor, coupled with Mali-G76 MC4 GPU. It supports expandable storage via a dedicated microSD card slot.

The rear sports a quad-camera setup consisting of a 64-megapixel primary camera, an 8-megapixel wide-angle lens, a 2-megapixel macro lens, and a 2-megapixel depth sensor. The front gets a 13-megapixel selfie shooter, which is embedded in a punch-hole cut-out.

Backing these internals is a 5000mAh battery with support for 33W fast charging. Xiaomi claims the Redmi Note 10S can go zero to a hundred percent in around 78 minutes. The fingerprint sensor is located on the side and doubles up as the power button.

Redmi Note 10S is priced at INR 14,999 (US$ 203) for the 6GB+64GB variant and INR 15,999 (US$ 217) for the 6GB+128GB option. It’ll be available in three colors — Deep Sea Blue, Frost White, and Shadow Black. Sales start from May 18 via Amazon India, Mi.com, Mi Home stores, and retail stores.

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