Xiaomi's entry to the UK smartphone market didn't go exactly as planned

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Xiaomi, a company conquering the Chinese smartphone market, tried to launch in the UK. It didn’t go to plan.

You’ve probably never heard of this company before — pronounced SH-a-ow-mee — but it’s one of the biggest smartphone makers in the eastern hemisphere and has gained its success by selling devices at a minimal profit margin, then selling online services and add-ons to make money on. It does this in several different ways: it doesn’t spend money on advertising, has no network of physical stores to maintain and mostly only sells devices online and sells phones as soon as they become available, keeping warehouse costs low.

In essence, the company is anti-Apple — and I use this company as an example because of the numerous times Xiaomi has ripped it off. The former is a premium brand both in terms of quality and price, while the latter sells products as cheaply as possible and to as many people as it can.

The company is rapidly expanding across the globe, conquering China, Malaysia and several other countries and is rapidly expanding, investing more than $1 billion in India’s start-up scene. It entered the market in Spain earlier this year too, making an appearance at Mobile World Congress and opening its first physical store in the country.

Just launching in the UK this month, Xiaomi’s latest move didn’t go exactly to plan and ended up backfiring on the company.

Known for frequently holding flash sales in a bid to hype up demand for its phones, Xiaomi recently advertised two models of its phones for £1 each last week as part of a promotion. The public soon found out that the sale only involved two or three phones at that price point before the website was programmed to display a “sold out” message. When a Twitter user looked at the website’s code, he found that it had been programmed to say “sold out” as soon as the sale started, without checking stock levels first. Then a Facebook user noticed that the terms never initially said how many devices would be made available.

"We've held flash sales all over the world since our first one back in 2013 as a way to give a lucky few customers a chance to get their hands on our smartphones at incredibly low prices," a spokesperson said. In a previous sale in Spain, 50 units were available for €1, much more than that in the UK.

To uncover this information, users had to find and read the terms and conditions — something that everybody should do but rarely happens.

Going all-hands-on for PR, UK sales manager Wilkin Lee then said a lottery had been set up for those who pressed the button closest to the set time, explaining that a tie-breaker was done randomly. This was not mentioned in the terms, saying that phones would be “given away on [a] first-come, first-serve basis.”

Then, a spokesperson said that the company had made a mistake and that it had been fixed the day before the sale happened. Xiaomi could have trouble with the Advertising Standards Authority, whose rules say that consumers need to be informed “clearly and in a timely fashion” about the details of the sale.

The UK’s ad regulatory has received a complaint and is deciding whether to investigate.

📸:  Unsplash

📸: Unsplash

Noteworthy Read

Microsoft announced in December that it would no longer require sexual assault cases to be settled privately, becoming the first company to eliminate the forced arbitration clause. Previously employees were banned from taking their claims to court, instead being required to settle them in a process run by a third-party company. Though the process was cheaper and faster than bringing the issue to court, it negatively impacts women — they’re less likely to win forced arbitration cases and get smaller settlements as a result.

There’s many companies requiring this sort of agreement to be signed, including McDonalds, Starbucks and Walmart. But now, Google has removed the requirement after a staged walkout by 20,000 employees and Facebook did the same only a day later. The same is now true for Airbnb and eBay who announced the change to their policies not long after, along with Lyft and Uber, who made the change in May.

Obsession Hiatus

Our current obsession is the #FutureofMobility and how the ways we get around now — driving, taking the subway, electric scooters and more — are changing. With Uber debuting its scooter-share service on the sunshine coast, Waymo using Phoenix, AZ as a testbed for autonomous vehicles and SpaceX booking its first passenger ride to the moon, the mobility industry is changing everyday.

In Case You Missed It

👨🏻‍💻 In a surprise move, Amazon is splitting its HQ2 — and the 50,000 jobs that come with it — up, building half in Queens, NY and the other half in Crystal City, DC.

🏘 Canada will take in 40,000 more immigrants in 2021 than it will accept in 2018, Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen said on 31 October, pushing the total to 350,000. The majority of newcomers are coming under schemes designed to bridge skill gaps in the labour market and is needed in areas where populations are aging.

💏 Facebook Dating launched in September as a test in Colombia and is now expanding it into Canada and Thailand, including new features that let you look back on someone you previously “passed” on and allowing you to pause your dating profile for a specified amount of time.

🚕 Waymo is only a few weeks away from launching a paid driverless car service, operating under a new brand name and competing directly with Uber and Lyft. Initially it will be limited to a small group of riders in the suburbs of Phoenix, covering an area of around 100 square miles.

Our best wishes for a productive and peaceful day. Feel free to direct any Xiaomi coupon codes, insider tips on how to get a job at Amazon and Facebook Dating horror stories to our email.

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