Manu Kumar Jain, the co-founder and former managing director of Rocket Internet-incubated lifestyle e-tailer Jabong.com has been appointed the general manager (GM) for India at Xiaomi.
Hugo Barra, VP, Xiaomi Global, confirmed the news on micro-blogging site Twitter. “Hugely excited to have Jain onboard and running at full speed as Xiaomi’s India GM,” he wrote in a tweet.
Jain, who had started Jabong in 2012 along with Arun Chandra Mohan, Praveen Sinha, Lakshmi Potluri and Mukul Bafana, had left the company in January this year. At the time, it was reported that he had left the startup to launch his own venture.
Prior to Jabong, Jain had co-created DINK Couple, a cartoon series inspired by real life experiences. He had also earlier worked at companies like McKinsey & Company, Tata Administrative Services and Headstrong. He holds a B.Tech degree in mechanical engineering from IIT Delhi and a PGDM in business management from IIM Calcutta.
After Gionee and Oppo, Chinese smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi is also planning to launch its products in the Indian smartphone market later this year. While the company has already expanded into markets like Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore, its next destinations include Malaysia, Indonesia and India.
Rajan Anandan, managing director of Google India, had also earlier tweeted about the imminent launch, stating that it could potentially change the smartphone landscape in the country.
For entering India, Xiaomi will follow its established approach, wherein it will open up an office in the country and tie up with telecom operators in the country. This in turn will enable the company to sell its smartphones at a price that is almost ‘close to cost’. Note that this does not mean that the company will target the low-end smartphone price segment. It also does not plan to make a Firefox OS or an Ubuntu handset, and will instead focus on making the Android OS better.
Apart from telco partnerships, the company will sell its smartphones directly via its e-commerce site. Reports doing the rounds state that the company could also look at partnering with e-commerce sites like Flipkart.com. This comes as no surprise since Motorola’s second coming in India has been largely successful due to its exclusive partnership with Flipkart for its Moto E, G and X range of smartphones. Post launch, these devices have gone out of stock on more than a few occasions due to their high demand among customers in the country.
In 2012, Xiaomi sold 7.2 million smartphones, and then more than doubled this number to 18.7 million handsets last year. The company is now looking to increase this number to 40 million handsets in 2014.
(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)