PadNews has a report that cites Tencent claiming that the Xiaomi MiPad has sold only 550,000 units through the end of September. Google Translate mangles the text into near-nonsense so drop this link into Bing Translator.
If Teclast, Chuwi, or Onda sold that many of one tablet, they’d be delirious.
For Xiaomi, it’s a disappointing show.
As others pointed out when the MiPad was announced, Xiaomi violated the very principles that made it a success in phones.
Instead of undercutting established prices, the MiPad established a new high China tablet price. That alone has been the primary factor working against it.
This despite the fact it’s the best China Android tablet for the money with a build quality that’s world-class, manufactured by Foxconn — which does the iPad and other global brands.
I’m tempted to say that the MiPad is a sign of dangerous hubris inside of Xiaomi — or within Lei Jun himself.
Lei Jun published a manifesto to try to rally industry support for the MiPad. It didn’t really work. Although promising there would be a few thousand MiPad-compatible apps by the end of 2014, PadNews cites a source that says there are just a little over three hundred such apps. Not even developers were impressed.
It could be said that Jun’s vision has been vindicated by the Nexus 9 — which could be considered almost a “MiPad 2,” but it’s too early to tell what impact it will have on developers or others in the industry. Like the MiPad, the Nexus 9 comes in at a price that violates the history of Nexus pricing. And it brings with it a one-two punch for developers: Upgrading their apps for Android 5.0 and adapting them for a 4:3 screen (Duarte’s vision of Material Design suiting all screen sizes doesn’t mean a thing when it comes to games where pixels rule and require manual labor to change their aspect ratio).
It’s been rumored that Xiaomi is about to abandon its tablet ambitions and release a low-price (699 yuan, or US$114) tablet with a conventional 720p screen. That would represent a humiliation and I’m not sure how current MiPad owners would react to having the future taken away from them.
What could have saved the MiPad was international sales. But Xiaomi wasn’t ready to go there yet. And it’s not really clear where Xiaomi is going now. With one billion dollars borrowed from a consortium of banks for international expansion and announcing one billion dollars committed to buying “content,” what is Xiaomi’s true priority? Expanding into other markets or impressing Hollywood? Does even Xiaomi know?
I’m not going to mourn for the MiPad. This is how the technology game works: If you can’t make a quick killing, your chance is lost. Because three or six months later, your competition has something better to offer potential customers — sometimes even at a lower price.
It’s going to be interesting to see how Xiaomi ends the MiPad story. Will there be a blowout sale of remaining stock? Will it be quietly discontinued, with “No Longer Available” beginning to appear for the various models and colors at its website?
And how will Xiaomi regain credibility with a cheap-ass tablet that Teclast, Chuwi, Pipo, or Onda could have produced?