A page on Sina's website promotes Xiaomi's new phone. (Internet photo)
China's top budget smartphone maker Xiaomi recently announced a partnership with internet giant Sina, operator of the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, to sell 50,000 of its MI2 smartphones entirely within the Weibo microblogging service, the Chinese-language Beijing Daily reports.
According to a recent post on Xiaomi's Weibo account, the 50,000 phones will only be available to Weibo users.
A reporter with the paper said payments will be made through the recently launched WeiboPay online system unveiled by Sina earlier this month. The service uses the same login as Weibo, so existing users will automatically have accounts on WeiboPay.
Xiaomi has based its success on leveraging the internet to sell its handsets. Last year the company made the decision to sell its budget smartphones online only, a pioneering move in the Chinese market.
By testing one-stop online purchase-to-payment directly over the internet in this way, the company hopes to demonstrate its continuing innovation in e-commerce. "We have been working with Weibo for a long time and we continue to work with them because of the service's popularity," an unnamed executive at Xiaomi was quoted in the paper as saying.
Sina Weibo, which has over 400 million users, will help Xiaomi extend its marketing reach. Potential buyers of the MI2 smartphone will complete the whole transaction process within Weibo. For Sina, the partnership is a test of its new e-commerce model, the report said.
Previously, Sina Weibo served only as a platform for other companies to sell their products online. The company hopes the joint experiment will help it establish the microblogging service as a viable e-commerce platform. The system is still in a trial stage, the company stresses. If it proves successful, Sina is expected to broaden the scope of the service.
A local commentator said Sina expects a viable e-commerce platform will bring in more users and the associated advertising revenue.