Smart Trend

SINGAPORE, May 11, 2014 (AFP) – Xiaomi may be little known outside China, but the fast-growing smartphone maker is at the forefront of a new wave of Asian brands challenging the dominance of Apple and Samsung with high-spec, low-price phones. “As smartphones become more commonplace… consumers in emerging markets will become more demanding and willing and able to spend on them,” he said.

“Without a significant shift in branding and product portfolio low-cost manufacturers will see deteriorating prospects over the mid-to-long term.”

Nicole Peng, a mobile industry analyst with market research firm Canalys, said many Asian consumers of brands like Xiaomi are curious “early adopters” who want to have a first-hand experience of whether low-cost phones can actually match top models.

“This segment of the market are the geeks, if I can say that. They just want to experience the latest gadgets and are not so cost or brand-conscious,” she said.

— Hurdles remain —

Other analysts warn that significant hurdles remain, especially expanding overseas.

Xiaomi plans to move into nine other countries apart from Singapore this year. India’s Micromax too retails outside its home country, with sales in Russia and Romania. It has p