Xiao Mi, Mei Zu: these brands don’t trip off the tongue in London or San Francisco. But maybe they should. Talking to Chinese friends here in Beijing I realise that I could buy a cutting-edge Android phone for around £200. These phones are not considered to be second-rate citizens, much as we like to think everyone will settle for nothing less than an iPhone. They are well designed, well built and highly attractive products at a very attractive price.
What staggers me is the wide range of phones to be seen here in China–much wider than we would expect in England where the iPhone tends to dominate. Here, as far as I can seen, Android rules. In particular, the phablet, a cross between an iPhone and an iPad is in demand. And, as I’ve observed on previous visits, the iPad is itself one of the most popular cameras. I can’t think why, but it is considered smart to hold up a massive tablet for photographs.
The Chinese market is vast and can support the likes of Xiao Mi and Mei Zu alongside the world brands such as Apple, HTC and Samsung. Apple operates in a very small sub-set of China, selling to the 27 million “rich” Chinese who can afford to double or treble up on the humble but not so dusty Mei Zu. But this sub market is big in its own right and, perhaps, is all that Apple needs to be successful. Apple cannot compete with Xiao Mi, so best to stick to the market it knows.