Monday February 18, 2019
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Xiaomi Expands Its Brand’s Portfolio

With the purpose of strengthening its offline network further, Xiaomi aims to open 100 "Mi Home" stores in 2018.

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Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi on Friday announced that it was permanently cutting the prices of five of its handsets in India.

 In a bid to break the notion that it is just a smartphone brand, Chinese electronics major Xiaomi has amplified its products portfolio in categories like fitness and health, smart home, smart travel and more — using Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies.

After gaining ground as the top selling brand in the competitive Indian smartphone market, the company has ventured into the smart home category in India, by introducing air and water purifiers, projectors, security cameras, televisions and kitchen equipment, among others.

“In 2014, we began working towards our mission of not being recognised as just another smartphone company. Along with our products in the smart home portfolio, we are also venturing into the non-technology related segments like luggage, shoes, apparel and more,” Raghu Reddy, Head, Category and Online sales, Xiaomi India told IANS.

Expanding the “Mi Home” experience stores across the country, the eight-year old company lets users try, experience and provide feedback on the minimalist design philosophy-based products that have been doing well in the international markets and have the potential to do well in the Indian space as well.

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The smartphone maker has introduced Mi LED TV 4 PRO (55-inch), Mi LED TV 4A PRO (49-inch) and Mi LED TV 4C PRO (32-inch).

“With our partner companies in the ‘Mi Ecosystem’, Xiaomi is the largest IoT platform in the world,” said Manu Kumar Jain, Vice President, Xiaomi Global and Managing Director, Xiaomi India.

The company has announced a new generation of AndroidTV integrated ‘Mi LED TVs’ with voice assistance, Mi Air Purifier 2S and Mi Home Security Camera 360 with “talk-back” feature at affordable prices.

“We aim to make everything inside the house a lot more smarter. We put in a lot of efforts in ensuring that if we launch something here, it is completely customised for India and that takes up a lot of time based on customer requirements in the country,” Reddy added.

Xiaomi, along with over 200 partners that are part of the “Mi Ecosystem,” curates over 115 million activated devices in segments across consumer lifestyle, smart home, travel, toys and more.

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Xiaomi refreshes ‘Mi TV’ series in India. (Wikimedia Commons)

Based on the users’ feedback at the experience stores and social networks, the company said it will keep customising products for the Indian users.

“The opportunities of bringing in newer products are endless. People wanted the Mi TV for long and we brought that in India with voice support. People now want us to launch laptops,” said Reddy.

In September, Xiaomi refreshed its smartphone category and launched budget-friendly devices — Redmi 6, Redmi 6A and Redmi 6 Pro smartphones along with POCO F1 in the Rs 20,000-Rs 30,000 price segment.

Started with the online-only strategy, Xiaomi is now concentrating on stabilizing its presence in offline retail as well.

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At present, the company has four “Mi Home Experience Stores” in Bengaluru, Chennai, Mumbai and Delhi and 36 “Mi Home” stores across India.

With the purpose of strengthening its offline network further, Xiaomi aims to open 100 “Mi Home” stores in 2018. (IANS)

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Amazon’s Exit Could Scare Off Tech Companies From New York

Critics complained about public subsidies that were offered to Amazon and chafed at some of the conditions of the deal.

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New York City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (2nd-L) speaks during a press conference in Gordon Triangle Park in the Queens borough of New York, following Amazon's announcement it would abandon its proposed headquarters for the area, Feb. 14, 2019. VOA

Amazon jilted New York City on Valentine’s Day, scrapping plans to build a massive headquarters campus in Queens amid fierce opposition from politicians angry about nearly $3 billion in tax breaks and the company’s anti-union stance.

With millions of jobs and a bustling economy, New York can withstand the blow, but experts say the decision by the e-commerce giant to walk away and take with it 25,000 promised jobs could scare off other companies considering moving to or expanding in the city, which wants to be seen as the Silicon Valley of the East Coast.

“One of the real risks here is the message we send to companies that want to come to New York and expand to New York,” said Julie Samuels, the executive director of industry group Tech: NYC. “We’re really playing with fire right now.”

In November, Amazon selected New York City and Crystal City, Virginia, as the winners of a secretive, yearlong process in which more than 230 North American cities bid to become the home of the Seattle-based company’s second headquarters.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo heralded the city’s selection at the time as the biggest boon yet to its burgeoning tech economy and underscored that the deal would generate billions of dollars for improving transit, schools and housing.

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Amazon said in a statement Thursday its commitment to New York City required “positive, collaborative relationships” with state and local officials. Pixabay

Opposition came swiftly though, as details started to emerge.

Critics complained about public subsidies that were offered to Amazon and chafed at some of the conditions of the deal, such as the company’s demand for access to a helipad. Some pleaded for the deal to be renegotiated or scrapped altogether.

“We knew this was going south from the moment it was announced,” said Thomas Stringer, a site selection adviser for big companies. “If this was done right, all the elected officials would have been out there touting how great it was. When you didn’t see that happen, you knew something was wrong.”

Stringer, a managing director of the consulting firm BDO USA LLP, said city and state officials need to rethink the secrecy with which they approached the negotiations. Community leaders and potential critics were kept in the dark, only to be blindsided when details became public.

“It’s time to hit the reset button and say, “What did we do wrong?”‘ Stringer said. “This is fumbling at the 1-yard line.”

Amazon said in a statement Thursday its commitment to New York City required “positive, collaborative relationships” with state and local officials and that a number of them had “made it clear that they oppose our presence and will not work with us to build the type of relationships that are required to go forward.”

Not that Amazon is blameless, experts say.

Joe Parilla, a fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program, said the company’s high-profile bidding process may have stoked the backlash. Companies usually search for new locations quietly, in part to avoid the kind of opposition Amazon received.

“They had this huge competition, and the media covered it really aggressively, and a bunch of cities responded,” Parilla said. “What did you expect? It gave the opposition a much bigger platform.”

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Other tech companies have been keeping New York City’s tech economy churning without making much of a fuss. Pixabay

Richard Florida, an urban studies professor and critic of Amazon’s initial search process, said the company should have expected to feel the heat when it selected New York, a city known for its neighborhood activism.

“At the end of the day, this is going to hurt Amazon,” said Florida, head of the University of Toronto’s Martin Prosperity Institute. “This is going to embolden people who don’t like corporate welfare across the country.”

Other tech companies have been keeping New York City’s tech economy churning without making much of a fuss.

Google is spending $2.4 billion to build up its Manhattan campus. Cloud-computing company Salesforce has plastered its name on Verizon’s former headquarters in midtown, and music streaming service Spotify is gobbling up space at the World Trade Center complex.

Despite higher costs, New York City remains attractive to tech companies because of its vast, diverse talent pool, world-class educational and cultural institutions and access to other industries, such as Wall Street capital and Madison Avenue ad dollars.

No other metropolitan area in the U.S. has as many computer-related jobs as New York City, which has 225,600, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, Washington, Boston, Atlanta and Dallas each have a greater concentration of their workers in tech.

In the New York area, the average computer-related job pays roughly $104,000 a year, about $15,000 above the national average. Still, that’s about $20,000 less than in San Francisco.

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Even after cancelling its headquarters project, Amazon still has 5,000 employees in New York City, not counting Whole Foods.

“New York has actually done a really great job of growing and supporting its tech ecosystem, and I’m confident that will continue,” Samuels said. “Today we took a step back, but I would not put the nail in the coffin of tech in New York City.” (VOA)