Chinese startup Xiaomi has grabbed a lot of headlines in recent years for the company’s high-quality, low-cost devices and eye-catching MIUI user interface for its Android phones and tablets.
Initially the company’s phones were only available in China. Recently Xiaomi has started expanding into new markets including Singapore, Brazil, India, Russia and Mexico. But what about the United States?
According to Xiaomi’s Hugo Barra, the company plans to enter the US market next year.
Barra spoke with Android Authority about Xiaomi’s plans for the United States.
Part of what makes Xiaomi’s phones stand out are their premium features and build quality at low prices… but in the US market many people think they’re paying low prices for phones already. Sure, an unlocked iPhone or premium Android device can cost well over $600 when you buy it without a contract. But you can pick up some top notch devices by paying $100 to $200 up front when you sign a 2-year deal with a wireless carrier.
It’s likely that Xiaomi’s relatively cheap phones could actually look kind of expensive to some shoppers if they’re sold without wireless contracts. But Barra says the same savvy shoppers who buy Google Nexus smartphones already show that there’s a market for people who more than $300 to get an unlocked smartphone and then save money over time by signing up for a cheaper wireless plan. Xiaomi will probably target those potential customers… much the same way that rival Chinese companies Oppo and OnePlus have been doing since entering the US market recently.
In other words, it doesn’t sound like Xiaomi expects to dethrone Samsung or even Motorola or HTC in the Android phone space when it starts to offer phones in North America in 2015. Instead, the company plans to get its foot in the door.
That could be good news for fans of unlocked Android smartphones.
You know, if these Chinese manufacturers would invest the slightest amount in supporting their devices beyond the manufacturing runs they could really give some established brands a run for their money.
Or just work with the Cyanogen Mod team to have a supported ROM on the phone from the get go. Make it a VERY hack friendly phone and watch the thing take on a life of it’s own in the marketplace. But I completely agree, supporting their phones (or products in general) is China’s biggest flaw. It’s the main reason I don’t buy these brands.
I wouldn’t lump Xiaomi in with “these Chinese manufacturers”, Hugo Barra is not just anybody: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hugo_Barra#Google
MIUI is also very nicely done, though I would prefer them to offer a stock AOSP option (and/or Cyanogenmod).
Going to be very interesting as their business model is to make money from the services they offer which is localize to China. I don’t know see how they can do that in America.
IF they can’t make that something people want they will probably just offset it by makign the devices cost normal price
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