Xiaomi, hailed as the leading smartphone maker in China, is now taking its service to the next level by gettng into the wireless carrier business with its new product called Mi Mobile.
The company revealed on Tuesday, Sept. 15, that it is now offering two prepaid wireless plans to celebrate its first venture as an MVNO or mobile virtual network operator.
The government of China reportedly opened the telecommunications sector to MVNOs. These MVNOs lease capacity from the already established network owners to provide wireless services directly to consumers. Xiaomi's wireless business uses the networks of China Unicom (Hong Kong) Ltd. and China Telecom.
Users will pay per text message sent, per minute of talk time or per megabyte of data transmitted across the network, which is operated by China Unicom. Next month, the company will offer a package of 59 yuan (around $9.26) every month for 3GB of data usage via the network of China Telecom.
To avail of Xiaomi's wireless service, users need to purchase their SIM cards through the website of the Beijing-based company starting Wednesday, Sept. 23.
"This makes total sense in terms of strategy. Most people think that Xiaomi is a hardware company trying to sell cheap handsets," said the research director for European mobile devices at IDC, Francisco Jeronimo, during an interview. "Xiaomi is not just a hardware company, but phones provide a way into the services they will be developing in the future."
For the past few years, Xiaomi's general market share has been rapidly growing. In fact, it is now deemed the fourth biggest smartphone maker in the world.
Meanwhile, Google launched an MVNO service in the U.S. called Project Fi. The company is collaborating with T-Mobile and Sprint to enable the service.
Apple is also rumored to offer a similar service. However, the company has yet to announce any of its plans.
In the meantime, Xiaomi unwrapped its new smartphone: the Mi 4c. This device boasts a 5-inch screen. It also sports a 13-megapixel camera and houses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 808 processor.