With smartphones, Xiaomi really started the trend of getting affordable phones with great specs. If it is able to do that for the laptop segment, then that would be a feather in its cap. But one must keep in mind that players such as Dell, HP, Lenovo and others have been in operations for years and offer a much wider product portfolio. With just two laptop variants in its arsenal, Xiaomi certainly can’t compete with the big boys in terms of market share.Secondly, markets such as China or India where Xiaomi would expect to sell most of these laptops, also pose a hindrance. There is an increasing propensity for people in these parts, to bypass the PC/laptop altogether to go mobile first. According to IDC Research analyst Bryan Ma, Chinese notebook market will see a decline by 10.4 percent in 2016 as compared to a 9.3 percent decline worldwide.
Thirdly, Xiaomi has been trying to get into a lot of new product segments in its effort to create a Mi ecosystem of products. This year itself, Xiaomi launched the Mi Max, which is a 6.44-inch phablet which Xiaomi insists on calling a smartphone. Then there was the Mi Drone which was launched at RMB 2999 (approx Rs 30,200) with a 4K video camera and at RMB 2499 (approx Rs 25,200) for the Full HD camera. And now the two laptops.It is really difficult to gauge whether Xiaomi intends to be in these segments for the long run, or it is just a means to pacify the investors, after it could not meet its sales and revenue targets for 2015. We had observed in the past how Xiaomi adopting the offline sales model now was a sign of its desperation to grab some lost marketshare. The Mi Notebook Air seems to be a really bold move to create a market share in a category that is on a steady decline.Bottomline is, hardware sales numbers can just get you so far. And what’s to stop other Chinese players or even the incumbents from launching their own laptop brands to cut Xiaomi on the pricing front – just like they did with the smartphones. The Mi Notebook Air will run on Windows 10 and apart from the ‘Mi Sync’ and the ability to unlock the Mi Notebook Air with the Mi Band, there isn’t much of a Xiaomi touch on the product. So unlike say the MIUI, there isn’t much of the software or services play here. Maybe Mi Cloud can be a point of revenue with its cloud storage feature, but that’s about it so far. Xiaomi says it wants to bridge the gap between performance and portability and make it easier for young adults to buy an affordable PC which can be used for productivity. All said and done, it is still an uphill task to really make an impact in the laptop segment, as Xiaomi did with the smartphones.