We've just covered Xiaomi catching up with Oppo by presenting its own under-display camera on Twitter right after the former showed off its prototype, but the internet is not the only place Xiaomi is attacking its rivals. First, the company started advertising its new Redmi K20 as the "Flagship Killer," the exact marketing term OnePlus aggressively used in its early years. Then, the firm put up billboards right next to OnePlus advertisements around India with a bold statement: "Starkly superior to the latest One."
— #MiFan Manu Kumar Jain (@manukumarjain) June 2, 2019
Now, let's get some background on this feud. As many of you probably know, OnePlus is a subsidiary of Oppo, even though the two companies like to deny the fact that they're closely related. Still, many of Oppo's flagship designs end up being the blueprints for OnePlus's devices, and the flagship-killing company was founded by Oppo's vice president Pete Lau. OnePlus's marketing has always been about giving customers the best specs at the lowest possible price, all while providing software suited for power users – first CyanogenMod (RIP), then it's own Oxygen OS. Thus, the firm promoted its device as a "flagship killer." The company has evolved a lot since its early days and has become less sensational in its marketing approach, but the basic promise – low(-ish) price and high specs – has never really changed.
Xiaomi has developed a similar strategy recently. Through its subsidiary Poco, it published the Pocophone in Western markets with the explicit promise of supporting developers and device tinkerers, cutting right into OnePlus's original customer base. Many (including us) have even called Poco the spiritual successor of OnePlus, although the company is much less independent from its parent than OnePlus is from Oppo. This is evident from Xiaomi's recent marketing for its Redmi K20 flagships – with Redmi being yet another subsidiary. The business appears to have noticed that marketing its devices as low-cost alternatives to the competition works really well, and thus, it has extended this message from its Poco sub-brand to its own flagship.
And what better way to market your device than by attacking the very company that hits in the same vein, and has the same customer base you're interested in? Thus, it makes perfect sense for Xiaomi to aggressively advertise against its direct competitor, and I expect that we're going to see more of these offensives against it. The question is whether OnePlus will feel the need to start counter attacks since Xiaomi presents itself as the underdog in their relationship (of course, Xiaomi sells many more phones than its competitor – for it, it's about exploring an additional demographic).
Xiaomi's tactic is by no means unprecedented at all: We've seen a similar strategy when Google started its Pixel line, positioning it right against Apple, and again with the Pixel 3a vs. the "Phone X," which was quite bluntly a hit against the iPhone X. Samsung took a similar approach a couple of years back, though it took all of it a little too far.
- Manjot Singh,
- Technology Bro,