June 9, 2015 by ...
Xiaomi shipped 2.8 million fitness bands in the first quarter of this year. That stat is phenomenal considering that they just started selling the Mi Band a little while ago.
It takes time to build a brand and product demand. And in fairness to Xiaomi, this is one of their devices that is all homegrown. From the Soviet-era chic industrial strength gray tracker with enough lights to be little more than creepy, the device is homely.
The band actually looks nice, but once again, it’s lacks in style. Consider it to be the pink and yellow streaked 50 year old sporting leopard spot leotards in the Washeteria. Yeah, that’s the Mi Band.
As we all know, people pay for brand, image and quality. Companies produce accordingly. Create a Lambo and waltz to the bank. Peddle Sam’s Club Soda and feast on Saltines and butter.
Continuing with this analogy, Xiaomi prices at what it’s worth- bargain basement. Don’t get me wrong, the Mi Band is good at what it does, but it’s hardly value priced. No matter how you slice it, sex appeal sells and the Mi Band is ‘county jail gear’ ugly.
Take it from moi. Tech tramp that I am, I’m a proud owner of a Fitbit One, Fitbit Charge Hr and Mi Band.
As witnessed by the photo, the Charge HR is going strong, even though it’s got that ‘big ass tire tread’ vibe going on. The Mi Band however, has ‘abandoned Mi’. It popped out of its neoprene home while I took off a sweater.
Considering that it only cost $12, it was a bargain, sort of. Doing the numbers we see:
Fitbit $99, months used so far 12 and counting
Cost per month $8.2 and decreasing each month
Fitbit Charge HR $150, months used 2 and counting
Cost per month $75 and decreasing each month
Mi Band $12, months used 1
Cost per month $12
Of course one could claim that my argument is flawed, after all, my Mi disappeared early. Fair enough, my Mi is an anomaly. But based on what Weibo users in China say, the Mi will die before an ass (donkey) will be conceived and born-365 days. They say Xiaomi kit generally dies fast.
Interestingly enough that 365 day figure goes for most Mi gear. Chinese and Indians alike claim their ‘Mi not live so long’ chargers have the shelf life of whole wheat crackers. Buy one on January 1 and you’ll be repenting it come October.
Giving Xiaomi the benefit of the doubt, even if the Mi Band makes for a year, that’s still $1 per month and the cheapo Fitbit tops that on a lifetime cost basis.
The upshot is that Xiaomi is pushing boatloads of these things because
1- they are cheap
2- they need to be replaced slightly less often than toilet paper
In light of this, Xiaomi prices accordingly. Thus they may be number two in the wearables world, but they might as well be a not-for-profit. They make little if anything on the Bands. This strategy is great for Sam’s, but can the same be said for the world’s most valuable privately held electronics producer?
Mi thinks not….