Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi plans to set up two manufacturing plants in India and launch more devices this year as it ramps up its presence in the world's fastest growing market amid a cooling in its home market.
Bin Lin, billionaire co-founder and president at Xiaomi, said that he will be spending a lot more time in India, underlining the South Asian nation's importance amid challenges in its biggest market, China.
The India plan includes manufacturing of handset peripherals and components, he said.
Conversely, Lin expects India, already the world's fastest growing smartphone market, to further gain steam, selling around 140 million devices in 2016, compared with about a 100 million last year.
Meanwhile, Xiaomi India head Manu Jain said that single-brand retail licence was an exciting opportunity for the company, but didn't specify if the smartphone maker had already applied for one. However, a company spokesperson separately said that Xiaomi has applied for a licence, joining Apple as among the top foreign brands opting for a direct presence in India, which eased foreign direct investment rules for single-brand retailing in November.
Xiaomi entered India in July 2014, and started local manufacturing just over a year later. It has partnered with the world's largest contract manufacturer, Foxconn, which now makes 75% of the company's phones at its plant in Andhra Pradesh. Xiaomi sells well over 1 million phones a quarter.
The company will also take advantage of the Union Budget recommendations, which made local manufacturing of batteries, chargers and other mobile phone accessories cheaper. "We've already started working on bringing some of those local sourcing suppliers to India," Lin said.
In India, Xiaomi will launch Mi 5 - its latest flagship unveiled at the recent Mobile World Congress in February in Barcelona - in April, and two more devices this year -- one next quarter and another in the second half. It also plans to enter new product categories in 2016.
The company's aggressive manufacturing based expansion comes on the back of a weak 2015, when it dropped out of the top five, launching only two devices of note. Lin said the company was beefing up local operations in terms of R&D for India-specific products and after sales services. A direct result of that was Redmi Note 3, which went on sale last week with over 30,000 units, all sold within two seconds.