Phones

Xiaomi slows expansion to focus on India and Indonesia

The Chinese smartphone maker is scaling back its launch ambitions to focus "a ton of effort in India and Indonesia," where growth is robust.

The Xiaomi Redmi Note phablet is one of the company's hot sellers. Aloysius Low/CNET

Xiaomi, the third largest smartphone maker in the world, is scaling back its expansion into the West, instead focusing its efforts on the vast and growing markets of India and Indonesia.

The Chinese manufacturer had planned to be in 10 markets by the end of 2014.

"Our focus is to add market by market, one at a time, and to focus on bringing all of our products to each of those markets before we add a new one," Xiaomi global VP Hugo Barra said in a statement to CNET.

"Earlier this year, we talked about wanting to be in 10 markets within 2014," he said. "We realized that it's a smarter thing to do to scale back a bit and put a ton of effort in India and Indonesia before expanding further."

Xiaomi has so far steered clear of western countries such as the US, UK and Australia, but its presence in eight markets, including China, is already enough to make it the third largest smartphone provider in the world. It lags only Samsung and Apple, according to data from IDC.

The company's budget-friendly, high-quality handsets, such as the Redmi Note , have sold like hotcakes. By ditching the traditional retail model for online flash sales -- in which only a limited number of phones go on sale at any one time, usually with a lottery element -- the company has drummed up a huge amount of buzz.

In India, the company has increased shipments of its handsets from 50,000 per week to 200,000 to meet demand. According to a Xiaomi spokeperson, the company typically sells between 65,000 to 100,000 units per week, with events such as Diwali causing spikes of up to 175,000 phones sold. Xiaomi is also exploring options with Foxconn to manufacture its phones in India or Indonesia.

Barra, who was previously vice president of Google's Android division, has said that next year will see Xiaomi working on launches in Thailand, Russia, Mexico and Turkey. Barra's home country of Brazil will be Xiaomi's next market, with plans for that launch to happen in the first half of 2015.