Mi 5 in India: it’s time for Xiaomi to abandon flash sales
Although we haven’t reviewed it yet, the Xiaomi Mi 5 looks like a great phone on paper. It has flagship specs including a Snapdragon 820 chip, 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, and the MIUI software is considered by many to be one of the best versions of Android, so there’s plenty of reason to be optimistic. Except for one small thing: although the phone will be available from April 6, the chances of you getting one are pretty slim.
Why do you ask? It’s because of Xiaomi’s flash sale model. As someone who tried to order the Xiaomi Mi 4i and the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3, it’s safe to say that if you’re not in the first batch of pre-orders, it’s almost impossible to get one of the handsets from Xiaomi for the next two months. Even then, you might not get what you want: the Mi 4i and Redmi Note 3 are available now, but not the variants you want. After all, why settle for 16 GB of non-expandable memory when 32 GB models are announced in the case of the Mi 4i, or settle for 2 GB of RAM when a 3 GB variant was available during the first flash sale for the Note 3.
It also begs the question, why go to all the effort to create a new smartphone when most people can’t buy one? Yes, we get it, flash sales are useful when stocks are limited, and that limited supply is one of the things people are interested in, along with the low prices. But what next? From a branding perspective, these sales are great for quickly building a presence for businesses, as we’ve seen with Yu, Coolpad, and others. But Xiaomi is already established. Others, like OnePlus, have ditched their illogical invite system for open sales, but Xiaomi still clings to a sales model that now creates more ill will than good.
In fact, it seems to have doubled in complexity thanks to Friend Codes, or F-Codes. These codes give priority access to Xiaomi fans, who can buy products even without having to register for a flash sale. Getting a code involves getting lucky by retweeting the company’s Twitter account or “contributing” to the Xiaomi community. All this adds an unnecessary layer of confusion and prevents the average buyer from even buying Xiaomi products.
It’s not just Xiaomi’s smartphones where this is a problem either. Take the case of its powerbanks, which are still unavailable. You can’t find one at all. If you do, they tend to go through third-party sellers who don’t have the best reputation. If you think about it, most Xiaomi product announcements now have the same event flow:
- Advertise an amazing product at an amazing price. China first of course. Hint at availability elsewhere to get early adopters and influencers excited about what might be happening in their country.
- State that other countries, like India, will soon get the product, as was the case for the Mi 5. This leads to huge hype. To the point where the company completely dominates the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.
- Reveal a price that’s too good to be true, via a single e-commerce partner, coupled with a sign-up process that means anyone who wants one starts requesting access or becomes dependent on generous souls to share codes invitation. So much so that the once ubiquitous OnePlus One invitation requests seem tame in comparison.
- Release such a small quantity that you have a large number of vocal and angry customers who cannot buy it, creating unnecessary hostility. Most of them end up buying something else.
It’s no wonder, then, that Xiaomi has lost its footing in India to a host of Android smartphone makers such as Intex and Lava, and has even been overtaken by Apple – considered by some to be the fastest growing smartphone maker. overhyped.
Will I try my luck by getting a Mi 5? Sure. Do I think I have a chance of getting one? Not really. Unless of course the four million orders Xiaomi has seen in China make it confident enough to ditch flash sales in India altogether and make it available where it should be – in the hands of customers.