Xiaomi considering second Hong Kong store, a sign of city market’s value to Chinese brand

Hugo Barra, vice-president of the Chinese tech company, maps out Xiaomi’s vision: to sell an all-encompassing hardware and software package that connects to the world

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 10 July, 2016, 4:02pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 10 July, 2016, 4:02pm

Xiaomi is looking to open a second flagship store, Mi Home, in Hong Kong despite the slowdown in the city’s retail sector.

The company’s vice-president of international, Hugo Barra, said at a product launch last week that there was a “big chance” a second location would be added to its Mong Kok store that opened last year.

“Obviously we have to choose the locations very carefully. Retail is all about location and details,” he told the Post, adding that a date would be announced later. “Suffice to say this [Mong Kok] location is such a huge hit that we think that the model is worth repeating.”

Barra, a former senior executive at Google, says Hong Kong is an important market for Xiaomi. It recently launched two smartphones and an air purifier in the city.

“It’s the first time we’ve officially launched an IoT [Internet of Things] product outside mainland China,” he says, referring to the Mi Air Purifier 2. “This speaks to how the Hong Kong market is for us.”

Xiaomi underlines its future as a premium brand

Barra also launched the latest 6.4-inch Mi Max phablet during his visit last week. The 39-year-old Brazilian computer scientist says the company is seeing record demand for the model and have already received 60 million pre-registrations in China for the Mi Max.

“These are numbers that we’ve never seen in terms of demand for our products. This is a very important metric for us, obviously we want to continuously ramp up our supply,” he says.

Barra joined Xiaomi in 2013 and says the company is now more of an internet outfit than a hardware company.

“We focus on things like how much traffic we’re generating for all of our internet properties,” he says. “And how much revenue we’re generating for our internet properties [and] how our user engagement grows over time.”

The brand has in recent years positioned itself as more than a mobile phone manufacturer, producing wearables, headphones, cameras and even electric scooters. It has its own operating system called MIUI, on which its mobile devices run.

He claims that Xiaomi has the second largest mobile app store in China and the largest video library in the country, though the latter claim was recently challenged by rival LeEco, a China-based entertainment conglomerate that has a vast library of content for online streaming.

Barra seems unfazed, adding: “We’re in the business of acquiring internet users. We have more than a 50 per cent market share in China selling phones online. People who buy their phones online tend to be internet-savvy, those who are likely to subscribe to a video product, those who are likely to buy games, download games, access content, use our browser.

“In order to really understand our company you have to think of us as much more of an internet service than as a box shipping company that just wants to ship more units this year than they did last year.”