What if HTC and Xiaomi merged?

HTC’s revenue has dropped 55% year-on-year accoding to its latest financial results. The company situation is worrisome, and its smartphone business has been unable to reverse that fact. Every single model released in the last few years hasn’t had the warm welcome other HTC devices had in the previous years.

But HTC is far from dead. The HTC Vive seems to prove that, and it’s clear that virtual reality –and wearables– is now a possible last resort now that their phones are fighting with irrelevance and, above all, with the ones from Apple, Xiaomi, Lenovo and Huawei.

Xiaomi is doing quite well, though: it’s soaring in wearables and the recent launch of Xiaomi Mi 5 marks an interesting milestone that will allow them to compete in the high end (with almost mainstream prices).

HTC’s smartphone business isn’t working, and Xiaomi smartphone business is limited by its international expansion, something that HTC could provide.

What would happen if these two companies merged? Current HTC market cap is $81.94B, while Xiaomi has a market valuation of $45B. One could benefit from the other: HTC would be able to take advantage of Xiaomi’s strengths and ditch its own smartphones (or combine them with the best from its partner), while Xiaomi would be able to expand globally faster.

Is this nonsense?

Where is the future of wearables and smartwatches? 

 

This week we’ve been able to see a lot of new products and projects at the Mobile World Congress 2016 in Barcelona. The smartphone is showing its age and the evolution of the latest high-end devices has not been demonstrated on the devices themselves, but on the accesories we can use with them.

Virtual Reality has been the star of the show, but these accesories must prove that they really can work out for users. Last year smartwatches and wearables were clearly getting a lot of headlines, but not this year: this year the MWC hasn’t payed attention to them.

The latest numbers from IDC show how the market for this devices has grown: every company involved has shown double digit growths -Xiaomi multiplied its unit shipments by 12x- and Apple has become the greatest smartwatch vendor out there currently. There’s another confirmation in these numbers: the smartwatch isn’t killing the activity trackers. Far from it.

So if the growth has been so nice, what has happened at the MWC? Why not showing them some love? The reason is clear: there’s currently little room for innovation in current models, but that could change in the next coming months.

First, with the launch of new versions of watchOS and Android Wear before summer. And second, with the arrival of the eSIM, the technology that will transform the smartwatch into an autonomous, independent device that no longer has to rely on the smartphone.

We’re getting there, and I suspect MWC17 will give us a lot of reasons to talk about smartwatches again.

What if Xiaomi Mi 5 was available worldwide?

mi

Xiaomi Mi 5, the latest incarnation of what has made the Chinese maker so famous, is an impressive demonstration of how things change. The copycat is no more: the Mi 5 is a real, original, high end phone in its own right.

Everything in this device screams fast. We’ll have to wait for the camera samples and its comparison to other high end smartphones launched recently, but again, the ex-copycat is really promising.

The problem is not the performance, and of course not the price -there’s no cheaper way to get your hands on a Snapdragon 820 device- but the availability of a smartphone that will be sold initially in China and India. I wonder what would happen if the phone was also available in the Western World, where lots of users would be anxious to get one of these models.

This a device that could mean a new resurgence for Xiaomi, indeed. 2015 was not as expected. With the Mi 5 things could really change… but selling the phone in Europe and the US would help a lot in that case.

Xiaomi against imaginary valuations

Investors are taking a second look at China’s high-value startups such as smartphone maker Xiaomi, which is now facing growing pressure to live up to high expectations.

Xiaomi missed its 2015 sales target: they estimated 80 million smartphones shipped, but they weren’t capable of growing that fast and that much. They haven’t surprised us as before, and now the pressure from investors seems to be pretty high.

That’s reasonable, and maybe Xiaomi’s valuation was overestimated. But its business is done in quite the right way -let’s forget the design similarities with Apple-, so we should take that into account.

I can’t help but compare this company with Uber or Airbnb, which certainly offer us really good alternatives on their segments, but at the cost of companies that work according to the current regulation. Until that regulation covers that kind of ‘sharing economy‘ (great euphemism), they are doing something that could be (or has been) considered a fraud in many countries.

Unfair comparison, and unfair valuations anyway.

Source: China’s Xiaomi Under Pressure to Prove Value to Investors

Windows 10 on the Xiaomi Mi 4 is all about freedom of choice

We are approaching a new turning point in the smartphone market: you’ll buy a smartphone and will be offered the chance to install not different Android ROMs, but different operating systems on it.

That’s what Xiaomi will offer next December 3rd when it makes available Windows 10 to their Mi 4 customers in China. This launch follows a trial Xiaomi and Microsoft started a several months ago.

From Android Authority:

While additional choice is always welcome, it’s not exactly clear what Xiaomi has to gain by offering two operating systems, as the extra support is sure to be resource consuming. Perhaps the company is looking to better cater for the business market, an area that Android could arguable use some improvement in.

I’d say this goes beyond that. It is maybe a message to Google and Android, and operating system that have been commoditized. Makers will be able to offer new options to customers, and that is an interesting move in itself.

Interesting move that adds to Google’s rumored intention to design its own hardware and become itself something more similar to Apple, controlling both aspects of the smartphone.

Interesting times, indeed.

Xiaomi’s Mi Pad 2 is a promising cheap alternative to Surface Pro 4 & iPad Pro

You don’t need much more than that to work on the go. A 7.9 inch screen (2048 x 1536 resolution), a quad-core Atom X5-Z8500, 2 GB RAM and 64 GB of internal storage make this Windows 10 tablet a surprising cheap alternative to the new breed of expensive convertible tablets.

This is exactly what Microsoft should have announced in addition to Surface Pro 4. A cheaper, smaller version with similar capabilities. You’d only need a good “Type Cover” for this (Logitech Wireless All-In-one Keyboard TK820 seems like a good fit, but there are other options) and boom, you’re there.

I’d say the complete pack will cost around $300, which is a fair amount to spend on that occasional replacement to a real laptop. Not bad at all. Beware, Microsoft (and Apple).

Source: Xiaomi’s Mi Pad 2 is an iPad mini that runs Windows 10 | The Verge

She created Japan’s Xiaomi, launching 21 gadgets in 2 months

The small Japanese company UPQ has launched 21 gadgets in 2 months and has showed that anyone can compete with the giants if he/she has talent and works hard. From the article:

When asked if she’s trying to become the Xiaomi of Japan, Nakazawa deflects. “Big Japanese tech companies are in trouble,” she says. “I want to change the way Japanese people approach making new products.”

Designing in Japan (or anywhere else) and producing the products in China (the cheapest electronics manufacturing is mostly there)  makes sense, and lots of Kickstarter projects have made this true over and over again. Good story.

Source: She created Japan’s Xiaomi, launching 21 gadgets in 2 months | TechInAsia

The smartphone price wars are not victimless

Vlad Savov on The Verge writes:

Say that you do buy the rock-bottom-priced, Shenzhen-produced Android phone with the lofty specs from a random brand. It has a replaceable battery, but where will you get one when you decide you want a spare? It runs the latest Android today, but who will ensure it does so tomorrow? And who will bear responsibility for any overheating issues or display flaws?

These aren’t problems only related to local Chinese makers. Android updates are a big problem for big brands too, but Savov makes a good point. We should pay for certain features.

There has to be an intermediate point between the absurd margins of Apple iPhones and the equally absurd war we’re seeing on the entry level. Are we seeing the beginning of a disposable smartphone market? Uhm.

Source: The smartphone price wars are not victimless