Blocking Xiaomi smartphones in Crimea – a mythical story and its consequences


At the end of the week, my phone was torn from calls, more than a dozen comments on the blocking of Xiaomi smartphones in Crimea and a number of other countries, for example, North Korea, Sudan or Cuba. The news quickly went viral, it broke out of the small circle of those who write about technology and acquired the status of political. And we like to talk a lot about politics, with feeling, plainly and with consistency. Every cook is capable of running a state, isn’t she?

Xiaomi has a large team in Russia, but PR has always been a weak point, it is a systematically absent value when a product sells itself and does not need any action on the part of the company’s employees. Moreover, many of the pages of the official website, directly related to the company, remained in English, and did not reach them. And the large-scale event with the blocking of Xiaomi smartphones and the way it was presented in the press did not find any response anywhere. The company did not send out its explanations, did not publish messages on social networks about how everything really is, where is the truth, and where is fiction. A classic example of when a PR department seems to exist, but in fact it is not engaged in anything other than maintaining its existence and rarely communicating with the business press, when information is leaked to it that the company has become number one in the Russian market. It was a blissful occupation, but after performing this trick for the n-th time it set the teeth on edge for everyone, including journalists. The usual comment about the activities of Xiaomi PR specialists in Russia sounds extremely straightforward: “They can’t think of anything and sleep on the go.” In a word, they are always late and trudge somewhere behind the market.

I will cite a letter that our reader wrote about the situation with Xiaomi, so that before the debriefing begins to show the level of emotional intensity and struggle, it is important for our discussion in the future:

Hello Eldar.

I read today the news that Xiaomi has set a precedent for remotely blocking its devices that are used (according to the company) in violation of the license agreement.

The emphasis so far has been placed on use in regions where the sale of devices is prohibited.

Tell me, is it generally normal practice when a company that has received money for a product is later able to deprive the person who bought this product remotely without refunding the money, referring to an item in the user agreement?

In your opinion, does such a company have the right to conduct any activity on the territory of a state, if a part of this state is listed in the license agreement as an undesirable territory for trade?

Could you highlight on the “pages” of Mobile-review the topic of disabling paid devices and what are the possible consequences of this action for the company in the market of our country.

It seems to me that the reaction from the Rospotrebnadzor should be the most severe.

I apologize for some emotionality of the above, however, I am very interested in whether the company has assessed all the consequences of its decision and what real consequences the company can expect in our country.


Belozerov Mikhail.

How did the history begin and why the Crimea appeared in it. Initially, a note appeared on XDA Developers claiming that the company had begun blocking phones in a number of regions and that there was evidence of this. Export restrictions apply to a number of countries and regions, including Crimea. You can find the original note right here.

There is no prophet in his own country, and the topic is so hot that it instantly entered the news agenda of resources writing about politics, appeared on radio and television. Unfortunately, out of more than a dozen comments that he gave on this topic, in half of the cases they were not included in the final notes or plots, since they completely destroyed the concept that the authors drew – evil sanctions offend the residents of Crimea.

In the Western press, I managed to find examples of blocking of Xiaomi smartphones in Cuba, Sudan, but not a single example of such blocking in Russia (for sure there are blockages in North Korea, but it is not possible to find out about them). Screenshot in Spanish is shown throughout for illustration.

Some publications showed remarkable invention and stated that blocking of Xiaomi smartphones in Crimea did not just happen, but affected hundreds or even thousands of people! It seems that people competed in invention and did not hesitate to whip up passions so that their notes evoke emotions and from the reactions of many people I know that they have achieved their goal. Exclamations that Xiaomi should be expelled, pressed to the nail and further down the list were heard from all over. At the beginning of the week, the deputies plan to bring this issue to the Duma for consideration so that the Chinese company does not affect the rights of residents of one of the Russian regions. And we can say that the same PR from Xiaomi did a disservice when it could not suppress this media wave in the bud. Now it’s too late to roll the minced meat in the opposite direction, nothing efficient will come of it, and you need to work to reduce the subsequent damage.

Let’s figure out together where Crimea came from in the list of regions where Xiaomi cannot work, how blockages occur and why they were not in Russia, and at the same time assess how possible this scenario is after attracting the attention of the general public.

Countries and territories under American sanctions, a special case of Crimea

In America, they love to impose a sanctions regime in order to demonstratively show their displeasure with certain countries. After the return of Crimea to Russia, a sanctions regime was imposed on the entire peninsula; American companies and those who use the technologies of these companies cannot sell their goods, software or provide services to residents of this Russian region. Formally, all American companies support this sanctions regime, for example, Microsoft does not officially sell anything to Crimea. The Russian government, faced with a regime of sanctions against a separate region, made it clear that every American company, which does not create conditions for their services and products to work in Crimea, can collect things and leave Russia on all four sides. A compromise was found instantly, since business always knew how to count money and no one could afford to lose the Russian market. For example, the same Microsoft turns a blind eye to the fact that their partners are selling “tons” of software in the Crimea, all this is recorded in the Krasnodar Territory. After the return of Crimea, it was this region that suddenly experienced an unprecedented rise in the consumption of computers, software and the like. The gentlemen’s agreement between Russian officials and American companies looks very simple – the former formally support the sanctions, but in fact they sell all the necessary technologies and turn a blind eye to what is happening. It is important to note that these are not agreements at the level of Russian offices, but agreements between headquarters and the state. It will definitely not be possible to find them in writing, since many people face criminal prosecution for violating the sanctions regime in America. But the profits are much higher and therefore everything works the way it works.

Partners of American companies, for example, the same Xiaomi, must comply with the sanctions regime, this is spelled out in the agreements between the same Google and Xiaomi. Therefore, the software contains a list of countries and territories where the equipment cannot be sold, this is prohibited under agreements. And Xiaomi has just as formally approached this issue all this time. As an example, we can cite Cuba, there were no official sales of Xiaomi smartphones on Liberty Island, locks were turned on automatically and this was an example of compliance with sanctions. That is, Xiaomi’s business did not suffer from such blockages, moreover, Cuba was clearly chosen as a region from actions in which Xiaomi’s business could not suffer.

With Russia, the situation is completely different, for Xiaomi the Russian market is a priority, there are noticeable sales and the company is trying to fight for first place in piece terms, it even achieved this result for a couple of months. And the introduction of blockages in Crimea would have been perceived unambiguously negatively, so nothing like this has ever happened. Xiaomi acted exactly the same way as American corporations, adhered to the sanctions regime carelessly, formally. In fact, there were no restrictions.

Very often I have come across an incorrect interpretation of blocking, here “common sense” was in effect. In fact, the blocking only works against devices that are activated for the first time in the territory under the sanctions. If you set up your smartphone in Krasnodar, but started using it in Crimea, then no blocking can happen. To date, all Xiaomi smartphones that are sold officially in Crimea through the company’s partners (models officially imported into the Russian Federation, not the gray market) are automatically recorded in the nearest region when activated. That is, formally, there is not a single officially sold Xiaomi device in Crimea. We see exactly the same trick used by Microsoft and other companies.

In theory, if this trick is removed, it will be necessary to activate the device in advance in the neighboring region and then use it in Crimea. No one plans to block already purchased and activated devices, such a blocking mode is simply not provided. Therefore, all these reports that the company is blocking something in Crimea cause a grin, nothing like that happens.

Drawing attention to this topic can change everything, since now Xiaomi will be officially required to not impose any restrictions on Russian users. And then there can be no official reaction from Xiaomi, because if it agrees with this, then it will automatically fall under US sanctions. More recently, Xiaomi has already fought against sanctions from America and achieved their lifting. It is not clear what exactly the company’s management promised to officials from the White House, but it was clearly a compromise, perhaps access to user data in other countries of the world, in this big game, such is possible. The fact is that Russia is important for Xiaomi, but the problems that America can create for the company are incomparably greater (however, China can also create such problems, and it is on the side of Russia). It turns out that Xiaomi is caught between a rock and a hard place, and cannot get out of the situation with the least amount of losses.

The ideal scenario for the company looked like this, at the moment this information appeared and the wave of publications was growing, it was simple to declare that no blockages took place in Crimea, there were no such examples. And this is absolutely true. It was possible to give this comment on behalf of the press service, or from an external PR agency, if it was necessary to shove off the responsibility for these words. But nothing of the kind was done, and now most people live with confidence that Xiaomi is blocking their smartphones in Crimea, and the emotional reaction to this is very strong. Yes, and the deputies firmly believe that this is a fait accompli and want to show their work at the expense of Xiaomi. A huge layer of problems that Xiaomi will rake for a long time, and all because of the sluggishness of PR and a lack of understanding of how big the problem is and how it can affect the company’s business.

At the moment, you can buy any Xiaomi smartphone without fear of being blocked. But what the company will do very soon is a question, they may have to block the devices, as they will be forced to comply with the sanctions. In any case, Xiaomi has already lost in the public field, although some announcement will surely be made, but it was already very late. What do you think about the situation and to what extent the company’s PR was able to work it out correctly?

Source: — Все о мобильной технике и технологиях by

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