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Xiaomi launches the beta version of its MI store app in India

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Xiaomi has launched the beta version of its global MI store app in India. As of now the app has to be downloaded from Xiaomi’s forums and sideloaded on an Android phone to use. According to Xiaomi, the app will sell the company’s entire product line on the Play store once it is live.

As of now the Mi store is listing devices including Mi4, Mi4i, Mi Pad, Redmi Note 4G and the Redmi 2, along with various accessories like power banks, protective cases, back covers and Mi bands. Other than the Mi4i, all other products were in stock and purchasable. Unfortunately there is no way yet to set a notification for when unavailable products will be restocked. The Mi app also lets users check their orders, closed orders and returns, as well as warranty terms and service centre locations.

A note on permissions: For a platform that showcases devices and accessories to sell, the app certainly requires a lot of permissions including reading phone status, sending and receiving SMS, read/write access to USB storage, view all network and WiFi connections, control vibrations, prevent phone from sleeping and retrieve running apps. Some of these like control vibrations or preventing sleep are understandable, while others like the ability to view all network and WiFi connections and retrieve running apps are rather questionable.

As of now the app is only useful to users in India, as the phones will likely display an out of stock, or unavailable tag in other countries. However, Xiaomi stresses this is the global beta, hence we expect the app will work in all the countries Xiaomi sells in, once released. Note that the company does not provide a timeline on when the app will be available on Google Play or if it will release the app on iOS and Windows phones.

Our take: We are not sure how useful this app is since users can buy Xiaomi phones, and a lot more through the Amazon, Snapdeal or Flipkart apps. Additionally, it’s not likely Xiaomi will stop selling through other online channels as, at the end of the day, it wants to sell more phones. However, the app will provide Xiaomi with a new channel to sell its phones and accessories. We expect this app will also show up as a default on future Xiaomi phones, making it ‘easier’ for customers to find official accessories etc.

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Xiaomi in India: Xiaomi released the much awaited Mi 4i smartphone and the wearable device Mi Band in India, in April, and the RedMi 2 and MiPad a month earlier. The Mi Band was made available via its online store, which was launched in India in March. The company also ended its exclusive tie-up with Flipkart and started selling its smartphones on Snapdeal and Amazon as well. It had also held flash sales for unboxed and refurbished Xiaomi smartphones on e-commerce marketplace Overcart.com, and started selling its flagship phones offline at The Mobile Store. In May, the company tied-up with online smartphone and tablet repair & after-sales support services provider Gadgetwood eServices to offer one-day repair and delivery services to Xiaomi customers.

Xiaomi funding:

– At the beginning of this year, Xiaomi had raised $1.1 billion from a series of investors including DST Global, Singapore’s GIC, Jack Ma’s Yunfeng Capital, Hopu Fund, and All-Stars Investment among others at a reported valuation of $45 billion. Last month, the company secured an undisclosed amount of investment from Ratan Tata, who is also expected to act as a key advisor as Xiaomi looks to expand in India.

– In December last year, Xiaomi’s India head Manu Kumar Jain had claimed that they had sold one million handsets in India since its launch in July. The company had also revealed plans to start making its smartphones in India as it continued to struggle to match consumer demand. At the time, Barra had told Bloomberg that production in India will likely begin in a year or two.

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