When your phone stops working, you might vent on social media, frantically search for solutions online, and search for long-misplaced bills and warranty cards. But things can be very different when you’re famous and worth a billion dollars.
Paytm CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma today took to Twitter to complain about his iPhone X, which seemed to only show a loading icon. “My iPhoneX is in this state since yesterday evening. All, multiple combos of hold key press, haven’t worked to restart it !,” he tweeted, while sharing a video of the offending device.
My iPhoneX is in this state since yesterday evening. All, multiple combos of hold key press, haven’t worked to restart it ! pic.twitter.com/WgN39JrMAr
— Vijay Shekhar (@vijayshekhar) June 11, 2018
Now consumer complaints aren’t unusual on Twitter — indeed, at times it can appear that the purpose of the entire site is to publicly shame companies into get them to respond to problems users have. But while Apple didn’t respond to Sharma’s complaint — the company is famously reticent on social media — he did receive a reply from another phone manufacturer.
Xiaomi India head Manu Kumar Jain replied to Sharma’s tweet, telling him that this might be an opportune time to ditch Apple. “Maybe it’s a signal – time to switch to the No. 1 smartphone brand in India!,” he said. Xiaomi had recently become India’s largest selling smartphone brand, displacing Samsung. And Jain even threw in an offer that Sharma would find hard to refuse. “I would be happy to send one to you personally,” he offered.
Maybe it's a signal – time to switch to the No. 1 smartphone brand in India! ?
I would be happy to send one to you personally.
— Manu Kumar Jain (@manukumarjain) June 11, 2018
But even as it was still unclear whether the Paytm CEO would take up Manu Kumar Jain on his offer, he was being courted by another brand. Sharma’s tweet and Jain’s response had drawn the attention of the rest of Twitter, who were chiming in with their suggestions. When a user suggested that Sharma switch to a OnePlus instead, OnePlus’s official Twitter account decided to join in, telling him that he wouldn’t regret his choice.
You won't regret it. 😉
— OnePlus (@oneplus) June 11, 2018
While Sharma at the moment is playing hard-t0-get — he’s replied to advances from both companies with happy emojis — it shows how cutthroat the phone business is at the moment, and how companies will stop at nothing to get a leg up over the competition. And this isn’t even the first time Manu Kumar Jain has offered free Xiaomi phones to people complaining about Apple devices — last year, he’d offered a free Redmi Note 4 to CommonFloor cofounder Sumit Jain when he said he was having battery issues with his iPhone 6.
It’s a smart strategy — a company’s VP pitching its own products to people on Twitter shows he’s willing to put his personal reputation behind his brand, and this can’t help but inspire confidence among potential users. Jain also makes sure to punch up — Xiaomi phones are much cheaper than Apple phones, but offering a Xiaomi phone as a replacement for an iPhone sends a subliminal message that in terms of performance, the two phones might be comparable. And doing all this in the public eye is an added plus — the buzz on social media is free marketing for his brand.
It’s still unclear if Sharma will replace his iPhone X — he certainly seems to be an Apple man, and his iPhone video even had a MacBook in the background — it does show how the world is a much nicer place when you’re rich and famous. Sharma is now worth over a billion dollars and can presumably buy all the phones he wishes, but brands are falling over each other in trying to get him to use theirs. There are many perks to entrepreneurship, and getting free phones if you strike it big might just be one of them.