Xiaomi has announced today that it is spinning Redmi into its own sub-brand under its umbrella. Redmi was already functioning as a sub-brand of Xiaomi for a few years now, but it is now officially a sub-brand. Redmi has been around for a few years, mostly in emerging markets that Xiaomi has been expanding into, with India being the first market that Redmi launched in. It was used for Xiaomi's lower-end smartphones, which obviously do very well in emerging markets like India and Brazil. The first Redmi smartphone launched almost five years ago, and it has done very well since then, launching numerous smartphones since.
Redmi has mostly been used as a catalyst for Xiaomi to launch into new markets. Of course, the majority of markets that it has launched into, were emerging markets. So a good budget phone will sell better than a high-end flagship like the Mi MIX 3. Also, bringing a good budget smartphone into a new market is going to garner a lot of attention and also allow Xiaomi to quickly pick up market share in the country. Which is exactly what has happened here. In less than five years, Xiaomi has gone from not even being in India, to being the number one smartphone brand in the country. And seeing as India is a slightly smaller market compared to China, that is a pretty big deal.
Xiaomi co-founder explains why the separation of Mi and Redmi brands
After the announcement early this morning, Xiaomi's co-founder and CEO, Lei Jun explained to a user on Weibo why it decided to separate the two brands - Mi and Redmi. And it essentially boils down to the focus of each brand. Redmi focuses more on value-for-money budget smartphones, while Mi is focused on high-end devices. The other main difference between the two is that Redmi is primarily sold online, while Mi devices are primarily sold through its Mi stores (available in many countries now). This does make plenty of sense for Xiaomi here, though Redmi was already basically used as a sub-brand for the company, it is just making it official as of now. It's unclear if Xiaomi will appoint a CEO or product manager for Redmi, or if Jun will remain in charge as he is today - in charge of all of Xiaomi. Of course, we will be getting more information on how Redmi will operate on January 10, at its first solo event, so that question will likely be answered then.
This strategy is not a new one, in the smartphone space. Huawei actually started this trend back in 2013 when it created its Honor brand. The company likes to say that Honor is separate from Huawei, even though it is owned by Huawei. But it operates as a separate company, and is primarily sold online, versus Huawei being sold both online and offline. Since Honor debuted in 2013, many other companies have followed this lead, including ZTE with its Nubia brand (which it now no longer has any ownership of), as well as OPPO with its Realme brand and there will likely be more to come. The main idea with adding sub-brands is to bring its brand into other markets, for Xiaomi, the name is going to be tough to pronounce in the West. However something like "Redmi" or "Poco" will be much easier, though it is still going to garner plenty of questions, like what does the name mean. But it will be easier to pronounce. On top of that, companies can use these brands to hit markets that it wouldn't normally hit with its main brand, without watering down that brand. That goes for Xiaomi, as well as Huawei, ZTE and OPPO.
Three separate brands from Xiaomi
With this announcement, there are now three separate brands from Xiaomi. There's Mi, Redmi and of course Poco that debuted last year. Mi is for its premium smartphones, while Redmi is for its budget-minded smartphones and of course Poco is for budget-priced premium smartphones. With these three brands, Xiaomi is able to cover all of the market segments around the world. Whether you are looking for something under $200, something under $500 or the best smartphone available, Xiaomi has something for you.
Last year, Xiaomi introduced its Poco brand, which appeared to be its take on OnePlus. It offers a phone with high-end specs, and features, for a pretty low price. The Pocophone F1 launched with a Snapdragon 845 chipset, up to 8GB of RAM and up to 256GB of storage, starting at around $300 USD, which is pretty impressive. And that did lead to many giving it the "budget smartphone of the year" award for 2018. And it's not hard to see why.
Redmi's first Announcement as a sub-brand comes January 10
Along with the announcement today, Redmi also announced that it will be launching a new phone on January 10. At that event, they will give out more details on the plans for Redmi, and also launch a phone with a 48-megapixel camera. Now back in early December, Xiaomi's global spokesperson, Donovan Sung had been teasing that something was coming in January, and there was a picture of the camera on a phone that said "48MP". It now appears that this is the phone that he was referring too. Of course, he could also be referring to a Mi-branded smartphone that is also coming, seeing as Xiaomi does launch multiple phones each month.
As of this moment, there isn't much else known about this smartphone that Xiaomi is planning on unveiling in about a week, in China for its Redmi brand. Though with the Redmi brand, Xiaomi does usually pack in a pretty good screen (likely a HD or Full HD display) and a massive battery, usually around 4000mAh capacity. So this could shape up to be a pretty good phone, though it likely won't be coming to the US, which is unfortunate, but for those in countries that Xiaomi is already available in, this is going to be a smartphone that you are going to want to pay attention to.