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Xiaomi India to spruce up retail network for rural gains



Manu Jain_VP and MD, Xiaomi India
Photo IANS

(Tech Trends)

 New Delhi, March 7 

A look at Chinese smartphone player Xiaomi’s current portfolio in India reveals that about 90 percent of its sales are from online channels, while less than 10 percent is offline.

This is set for a change this year as the company is now focusing on strengthening offline sales to penetrate deep into the hinterland.

As of today, Xiaomi ships its products to around 14,000 pin codes — close to 40 percent of the country’s total — every single week.

“This clearly highlights our presence in the Tier 2 and Tier 3 markets. As we increase our focus on offline sales, we will further increase our penetration in these markets,” Manu Jain, Vice President, Xiaomi, and Managing Director, Xiaomi India, told IANS.

Xiaomi India reached three major milestones in 2016 — it crossed $1 billion in annual revenue for the first time, secured a spot among the top three smartphone players in the country and, in October, sold a record 1.35 million smartphones.

The feat, said Jain, was achieved after the company dedicated its first two years to building a strong operations and distribution network within the country to support an innovative product line.

“We are now present in more than 8,500 stores via our innovative offline distribution network. Last year was indeed a great year and we achieved several milestones while building our India story,” Jain added.

Redmi Note 3 was the first device Xiaomi launched in India last year. By year-end, it sold more than 3.6 million units and became the highest shipped device in the history of online India.

“It was followed by equally appealing devices which disrupted the markets in their own domain. In 2017, we will continue to launch more innovative products and new categories,” Jain told IANS.

Xiaomi launched Redmi Note 4 earlier this year and sold more than 250,000 units in 10 minutes in the first sale across and Flipkart.

“With Redmi Note 4, we are hoping to sell more than double the quantity of Redmi Note 3. We are also working towards strengthening our support pillars such as after-sales and customer-support, among other areas,” Jain added.

According to him, the Indian industry is on the cusp of witnessing some key smartphone trends that will dominate this year.

“We will see faster chipsets that will be able to run seamless applications, while also allowing consumers to multi-task. Apart from fast processing, these chipsets will also provide optimal power consumption from a single charge,” Jain told IANS.

Bezel-less smartphones will be the game-changer and more and more smartphone players will launch bezel-less display to enhance the overall viewing experience by providing a higher screen-to-body ratio.

“Xiaomi launched Mi Mix in China last year which is bezel-less concept smartphone that features a screen-to-body ratio of 91.3 percent,” Jain noted.

With an upsurge in usage, the smartphone makers will focus on bigger battery which can handle long hours of LTE usage, multi-tasking and high-graphic games and video content.

“As more consumers perform their everyday tasks on mobile phones, people require more storage space for multimedia content, applications and so on. Even mid-range smartphones will focus on providing increased storage space this year,” Jain emphasised.

With smartphones becoming more powerful, manufacturers will also explore the world of virtual reality. “In the year 2017, we will see even affordable smartphones that will have VR functionality,” Jain added.

If we look at its global performance, Xiaomi — once touted as the “Apple” of China — has slipped to fourth spot back home as the demand for its smartphones has declined.

To reverse this, the company is now focusing on five core areas — technological breakthroughs, new retail strategy, globalisation, artificial intelligence (AI) and Internet finance — with a goal of 100 billion Chinese Yuan ($14.5 billion) in revenue in 2017.

But in India, the Xiaomi story is completely different and growing over country-specific, innovative products.

By Nishant Arora 

(Nishant Arora can be contacted at [email protected])


Honor 9 Lite Review: Four -camera set-up to disrupt mid-segment market



Honor 9 Lite

New Delhi, Jan 22: Honor 9i (Rs 17,999) was the first smartphone with a four-camera system that arrived in India last year. To tap into the mid-price segment with the same USP, Huawei’s sub-brand Honor has launched Honor 9 Lite, starting at Rs 10,999.

The device is in a direct fight with Oppo A83 (Rs 13,990) and Samsung Galaxy On7 Prime (Rs 12,990) which were launched on the same day, January 17.

Let us see what works for the device.

Bearing a striking resemblance to the iPhone 8, Honor 9 Lite looks stunning with a plastic frame, sandwiched between 2.5D-curved glasses at the front and back.

The mirror-like glass at the back has more resistance against smudges when compared to other devices.

It comes with a 5.65-inch full-HD+, bezel-less display with an 18:9 aspect ratio in a 5.2-inch screen form factor, giving extra work space to users.

The screen is similar to the display concept by Samsung sans the curved edges that the South Korean giant has in its premium devices.

Honor 9 Lite sports a 13MP quad-camera set-up, Phase-Detection AutoFocus (PDAF) and advanced wide-aperture mode.

As far as the camera performance is concerned, the device offered a somewhat mixed performance. The beauty effects in selfies and portraits came out well at times.

The Beautify feature especially worked well. The face marks vanished and the skin had a soft tone to it while clicking selfies. It took a split second to process the image and the output was good too.

In the Portrait mode, available in both front and back cameras (13MP+2MP), the “bokeh” effect was excellent despite the device not being a premium smartphone.

With “bokeh”, we could also point out edges which were not meant to be blurred out.

The Portrait mode did work wonders for the rear cameras and we had better final images.

The device is powered by 16nm Kirin 659 Octa-core processor that runs it smoothly. The Kirin chip delivered seamless performance.

Even with a four-camera system, we did not find any lag while working with several apps simultaneously in the background.

The user interface has had a minor facelift with new EMUI 8.0 that runs Android 8.0 Oreo. The new interface is also claimed to have Artificial Intelligence (AI) capabilities which are not available in this device at the moment.

Since Honor 9 Lite has a lighter version of EMUI 8.0, there was no impact on the overall performance.

The smartphone has a 3,000mAh battery that gave us a day-long power with moderate use, including surfing and video data consumption.

What doesn’t work?

Although the camera output was good, the Beautify option did editing to an extent that the images appeared almost fake compared to the original.

The plastic chassis sandwiched between the glass is an unwelcome feature — drop your device and it’s gone for good.

Conclusion: For Rs 10,999 (32GB variant), the device with a four-lens system works perfectly. If you are a heavy user, you can opt for the 64GB model.


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Less than 10% of Gmail users enable two-factor authentication: Google




San Francisco, Jan 22: Despite the growth of sophisticated cyber threats globally, Google has said that less than 10 per cent of active Gmail users have enabled two-factor authentication making the remaining 90 per cent more vulnerable to cyber attacks.

According to Google engineers, compromised passwords are the top way hackers gain access to accounts and all users — especially those in the enterprises — should implement two-factor authentication immediately.

“Further, only 12 per cent of Americans use a password manager to protect their accounts,” US-based news website Techrepublic quoted Google engineer Grzegorz Milka as saying in a presentation at the Usenix Enigma 2018 security conference in California late on Saturday.

Two-factor authentication is one of the most effective ways to protect online accounts given that compromised passwords are the top way attackers gain access to accounts.

In the enterprise, if a hacker can break into the email of even one employee, it gives them not only access to company data but also ammunition for future phishing attacks — making it even more important for firms to ensure all employees have enabled two-factor authentication and gone through cybersecurity training.

The feature, which Google calls 2-step verification, requires using a second step-often a single-use key or password-along with the account password to verify a user’s identity and allow them into their account.

With Google, the second step can come in the form of a text message, a phone popup, through a Google Authenticator app or from a number of printed single-use codes.

Google first rolled out its two-factor authentication feature back in 2011, yet users have failed to adopt the safety measure in large numbers. The feature adds a few seconds to the login time but is claimed to be the best option to stay away from cyber attacks.

Milka said that Google did not make two-factor authentication mandatory for all users due to usability.

“It’s about how many people would we drive out if we force them to use additional security,” he was quoted as saying.

Google has made a number of other efforts to improve security for its users.

In January 2017, the company announced new layers of enterprise-grade security controls for “G Suite” to give users more control and visibility over sensitive information.

In October last year, it rolled out the “Advanced Protection Programme” that offers better defenses against phishing, accidental data sharing and fraudulent account access for executives and professionals in fields where confidential information is shared online.


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OnePlus opens maiden authorised offline store in India




Mumbai, Jan 20: Chinese smartphone maker OnePlus on Saturday announced the launch of its maiden “OnePlus Authorised Store” in the country here.

Vikas Agarwal, General Manager, OnePlus India, said in a statement, “The new ‘OnePlus Authorised Store’ is designed to complement our online first business strategy and also attract new users, while serving as a destination for our fast-growing community to experience and purchase OnePlus products”.

The store is part of the smartphone player’s focus on creating more offline touch points across key cities to allow users to experience the phone sales, the company  asserted.

The company is offering a free “Bullet V2” earphone on the purchase of any OnePlus smartphone to buyers who will pay visit the “OnePlus Authorised Store”.

Last year in September, the company joined hands with several Croma stores to provide easy access to OnePlus products at a conveniently located store.

The company also launched its flagship “Experience Store” in Bengaluru last year for the OnePlus community to witness products as well as collaborate and share innovative ideas.


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