Xiaomi, the world’s fourth biggest smartphone vendor, has attracted some unwanted attention for its use of advertising throughout its Android software experience, called MIUI. A Reddit user recently posted about their disappointment with the increasing frequency of ads showing up in Xiaomi’s MIUI apps, including the music app and even the settings menu.
When The Verge reached out to Xiaomi for confirmation on this matter, the company responded with the following statement, while also clarifying that it only applies to its devices running MIUI and not its Android One phones:
“Advertising has been and will continue to be an integral part of Xiaomi’s Internet services, a key component of the company’s business model. At the same time, we will uphold user experience by offering options to turn off the ads and by constantly improving our approach towards advertising, including adjusting where and when ads appear. Our philosophy is that ads should be unobtrusive, and users always have the option of receiving fewer recommendations.”
Most people familiar with Xiaomi already know that the company’s business plan isn’t built around making a profit from hardware sales. Xiaomi sells phones at breakthrough prices, such as the new Pocophone F1, primarily as a means to get people using its services and to steer them toward its other online and retail ventures. In that context, the company’s attitude of treating advertising as an essential part of its operations makes sense. But Xiaomi runs the risk of alienating users if it fails to live up to its goal of “unobtrusive” ads. The Reddit user in question noted that they disabled the so-called recommendations option that pumps out these ads, however that didn’t stop them from appearing.
Xiaomi is far from the only advertising offender on the Android platform. Samsung, which is much better off and charges much higher prices, has also been guilty of spamming its users, and there’s a plethora of notification-pushing bloatware out there that might not technically be advertising but is just as disruptive and repellant. Amazon might be the only company that has the right approach about this: it sells phones at an ad-subsidized price and gives users the option to pay more to ditch the ads.