A Redmi smartphone from Xiaomi.
Bloomberg via Getty Images
By Jack Linshi
September 2, 2014

Online sales of budget smartphone maker Xiaomi’s new Android phone were gone in India before many even had a chance to click.

Known as “China’s Apple,” Xiaomi sold all 40,000 units of its low-cost Redmi 1S within 4.2 seconds on Flipkart, an online marketplace that does business exclusively in India, according to Hugo Barra, Vice President of Xiaomi Global.

Those unable to swipe one of the phones took to Xiaomi India’s Facebook Page or Twitter to vent their frustration, criticizing the Chinese firm for entering one of the world’s largest markets with limited supply. A previous flash sale of Xiaomi’s Mi 3 phone was met with similar success—and annoyance—when 20,000 devices sold out in 2.4 seconds, according to NDTV. Registrations have already kicked off for another round of online Redmi 1S sales.

In India, Xiaomi is attempting to replicate the success it achieved in China. Only three years old, Xiaomi has become explosively popular in its home country thanks to its affordable pricing and personalized design, recently outnumbering shipments of phones compared to its biggest competitor, Samsung. While Samsung claims the largest market share in India’s smartphone market, Xiaomi is attempting to stake a place with its low-priced smartphones: the Redmi 1S, priced at Rs 5,999 ($100), remains equally affordable as, if not moreso than, Samsung devices like the popular Galaxy smartphones, which tend to retail well over Rs 5,999 in India.

But Xiaomi has a long road ahead if it wants India to be its next China. Only less than 1% of Xiaomi’s global smartphone units were shipped outside China during Q2 2014, according to tech intelligence firm Canalys. And a formidable competitor is approaching, too: Google has set a Sept. 15 event in India, which many expect will mark the Indian launch of a cheap Android One, according to NDTV.

 

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