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Is Xiaomi’s Poco brand dead?

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Sahil Gupta is the founder and editor of warpcore. He has spent his entire career in mainstream media including stints at Gadgets 360, BGR India, India Today and more recently the Times of India Group where he led international franchise publications like Gizmodo India, PCMag India, TechRadar India and TechSpot India. Apart from having deep insight into consumer electronics trends and tech, he's also a music aficionado and pioneered the concept of thematic indie music events in New Delhi, India's capital. warpcore is a culmination of his career which has been spent on the intersection of technology and music.

Alvin Tse, the man who was said to be the global head of Xiaomi’s enthusiast-focused sub-brand Poco announced on Twitter a couple of hours ago that he relocated to Indonesia to lead Xiaomi’s smartphone business in the country. While he continues to lead the Pocophone business globally, this dual role could also mean that the brand is dead as there have been no new products from its stable for a while. So what’s going on?

Why do I think it is dead?

  1. Xiaomi doesn’t need Poco as an alternative brand because that’s now Redmi especially after the launch of the K20 Pro.
  2. The entire Poco leadership is now in dual roles or gone — including Jai Mani who was their lead product guru. Even its India GM, C Manmohan now handles online sales for Xiaomi India, like the Alvin Tse now also handles the Indonesia business.
  3. Poco hasn’t released a new product in over a year which could be because the first phone didn’t hit sales targets, even though the company hasn’t said that.
  4. The fact that this Diwali sale, Xiaomi is aggressively discounting the Poco F1 states that it is trying to get rid of dead inventory which is an indicator that the phone tanked by its internal metrics.

Why was Poco created?

  1. Poco was created to have an alternative brand that could appeal to enthusiasts in the wake of the failure of the phones like the Mi Mix 2 and the Mi 5 which failed to compete against the OnePlus 3 and OnePlus 5 respectively.
  2. It was also created to give Xiaomi a multi-brand beachhead in India as it faced competition from the multi-brand strategy of the BBK group, Lenovo and Huawei. BBK, in particular, made a dent with Oppo, Vivo and OnePlus.
  3. With mobile gaming taking off with the advent of games like PUBG and Fortnite, it wanted to create a phone for gamers. It also gave Xiaomi the opportunity to test drive a potential gaming phone.
  4. According to multiple sources, it was also meant to appease product focussed people in Xiaomi like Jai Mani who got embroiled and disillusioned in the management bureaucracy at the company after the exit of Hugo Barra.
  5. It also was a way for the company to sell a phone at a higher price bracket which it has been unable to since the initial success of the Mi 3 as it has been typecast like a mass-market brand. On the note, the Poco has been a success.

Is the Poco F2 a real thing?

  1. Now the reality is that the Poco F2 is a real product internally, but at this moment there is no telling if they are going to release it. The chances of that happening are unknown considering the Xiaomi Redmi K20 Pro is now its flagship phone in India.
  2. The Redmi K20 Pro is Xiaomi’s most expensive phone in India which has caused a backlash as many fans were unhappy with its pricing. If it were to launch a more expensive product, it would struggle to do so with the Redmi or Mi branding, but if it was to use the Poco brand for that purpose, it would still have a chance.
  3. If the Poco F2 were to come, it would be prudent for Xiaomi to make it with the Snapdragon 855+ which was announced in July after the India release of the Redmi K20 Pro. If it were to stick to its enthusiast centric billing then it will need Qualcomm’s latest and greatest chip.

Regardless of what happens, it seems like the Poco brand is either dead, or it will change dramatically if Xiaomi were to launch a second phone which it is rumoured to do so in October. That’s also possibly the reason why the company is maintaining radio silence about the state of the brand.

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