Smartphone giant Xiaomi to open first Apple Store-like retail outlet in Hong Kong
Chinese smartphone company Xiaomi, often known as the “Apple of China”, will soon open its first Apple Store-like service space outside mainland China in Hong Kong, as it looks to build up its presence in a market dominated by the US brand and South Korea’s Samsung.
Hugo Barra, vice president of Xiaomi Global and a former senior executive at Google, told a media briefing late on Tuesday the “Mi Home” store will open in Hong Kong in the coming weeks.
The company promises to fix phones within 90 minutes in the store while visitors can sit on sofas and watch the firm’s televisions.
"The idea is that we want to provide a service and store experience that feels just like home, we want a place that feels so comfortable you're just happy to come and hang out," said Barra, who was hired by Xiaomi founder and chief Lei Jun from Google in 2013 and is one of the highest paid foreign executives working for a Chinese technology company.
Barra was in Hong Kong for the launch of the Mi 4i handset, which will go on sale at noon on May 12 for HK$1,599. The new device was launched in India last month and is the first offering from the Chinese firm to be designed for the overseas market.
It will be available through the Xiaomi website and via local stores of CSL, one of the main Hong Kong mobile phone network operators.
Xiaomi runs 19 Mi Homes in mainland China and the company's business partners run 541 service centres in eight markets.
The company has maintained a model of online-only sales, other than through partners in markets such as India and Hong Kong, to reduce costs and keep prices low.
Barra said Hong Kong was the natural choice for the first Mi Home outside mainland China as the city was Xiaomi’s first market outside the mainland for its smartphones two years ago.
Hong Kong's Mi Home will house a service area akin to Apple's ‘genius bar’ where users can book to have their phones fixed or get the latest software upgrade.
A sitting area will have two 55-inch Xiaomi televisions, while a ‘Mi community’ area will offer workshops and another area will display new Xiaomi products.
"It’s not like an Apple Store where basically they’re trying to kick you out as quickly as possible so the next person can come in to buy things,” Barra said.
“We have couches with TVs, show me an Apple Store with couches and TVs."