Future of transport

Uber turns courier for China’s Xiaomi, and app users promised a new smartphone ‘in minutes’

PUBLISHED : Friday, 24 July, 2015, 2:32pm
UPDATED : Monday, 17 August, 2015, 10:16am

China’s top smartphone maker Xiaomi is hitching a lift with taxi-hailing app Uber so that buyers of its latest Mi Note smartphone can order the gadget as they would a cab and have it delivered “within minutes”, Xiaomi said this week. 

The latest gadget from the brand dubbed “China’s Apple” is due to be released online on Tuesday. But at present the Uber offer only seems to be available to users of the app in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur.

Payment will be charged to their Uber account and a Mi Note, which comes with a 5.7-inch screen, will be dispatched immediately, according to a Facebook post by Hugo Barra, Xiaomi’s vice president for international.

This represents a partnership between two of the world’s most valuable start-ups. Xiaomi is valued at US$46 billion and Uber an estimated US$50 billion.

Xiaomi has been moving quickly to expand in markets outside of Asia recently. 

It launched its Redmi 2 smartphone in Brazil at the start of the month, and started targeting the US and Europe earlier in May with the beta launch of a new online store in a bid to test its brand appeal in Western markets. The site sells accessories such as its Mi headphones and Mi fitness band.

The company has also been expanding its product list.

In July, it introduced two new “smart” devices: a cheap water purifier for home use and a pair of running shoes with built-in sensors in partnership with Chinese sportswear brand Li-Ning.

It released an air purifier for household use last December and is now rumoured to be mulling entry into the electric car market, having secured a number of patents last month.

Meanwhile, with its sprawling network of drivers, Uber is strongly positioned to expand into courier services, an area it has already started testing.

Earlier this month, Uber revealed a partnership with Chelsea football club that allows users of the app to request a replica jersey of the English Premier League be delivered to their door.

Uber has also been allowing users in a few US cities to order ice cream via its app for a number of years.