Xiaomi, the largest smartphone manufacturer in China announced its plan to start selling some of its products in the United States during a press event in San Francisco, California.
Xiaomi to take small steps
According to Xiaomi, it will take small steps into the U.S, market by opening an online store Mi.com over the next few months. The company said it will initially sell headphones, smart wrist bands and other accessories online.
During the event, Lin Bin, co-founder and president of Xiaomi said the company will first launch Mi.com to sell its initial products directly to consumers in the United States.
Xiaomi current market valuation is $45 billion. The company recently obtained $1 billion in new funding from investors including a fund affiliated with Alibaba Group Holding. Its valuation could reach $100 billion, according to Yuri Milner, an investor, who said he was attracted to the size of opportunity ahead of the company.
In an interview with Bloomberg, Hugo Barra, vice president of Xiaomi said, “We are experimenting in the next few months. We are bringing a very small scale operation of e-commerce platform to the U.S.”
Xiaomi will not yet sell its smartphones and tablets partly because of the carrier-sales and phone subsidy structure in the country. The structure diminishes the cost advantage of the Chinese smartphone manufacturer.
In addition, the company explained that it needs more time and effort to tailor its MIUI Android-based operating systems for every market, obtain certification and other requirements.
“We are just planning to sell simple products to start with, some accessories, just products that we can easily bring to the market because they don’t require certification; they don’t require a ton of localization or extensive testing, “said Barra.
At present, Xiami said its primary objective is to attract American consumers and build a community similar to what it has in China and India. The company plans to learn about the preferences of American consumers and increase their awareness about its brand through fan events and interaction on social media.
Barra emphasized “We want to get into the feedback loop with consumers in the U.S.” According to him, that is the first step for Xiaomi to build its brand particularly among young consumers.”
Xiaomi is now operating in eight markets
According to Barra, Xiaomi is now operating in eight markets mostly in Southeast Asia. The company is also planning to launch in Brazil.
It is also considering to opening its business in other countries such as Mexico, Thailand, Russia and Vietnam. He clarified that Xiaomi is still in the evaluation stage, it does not have any people yet in these target countries.
When asked about the issue that Xiaomi’s smartphone are clones or copycat of the iPhone, Barra emphasized that Xiaomi is unique and its designs are original. He added that the company is delivering the level of quality consumers expect.
Last month, the company introduced the Xiaomi Note smartphone, a direct competitor to the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.