Xiaomi, one of the biggest smartphone manufacturers in the world, is hoping that it will be able to enter the U.S. market before the end of the year.
A Chinese smartphone brand looking to enter the U.S. market is nothing new. The question, however, is whether the plan will turn out to be just like Huawei's push to sell the Mate 10 Pro in the United States.
Xiaomi Targets US Smartphone Market
Xiaomi, the fourth largest smartphone vendor in China, is looking to sell its products in the United States as soon as this year, as the company continues to progress its plans for an initial public offering.
"We've always been considering entering the US market," said Lei Jun, the chairman of Xiaomi. "We plan to start entering the market by end 2018, or by early 2019." The Xiaomi executive did not outline more specific details, but he was aware of the many challenges that the company would need to hurdle, including accommodating the needs of U.S. customers and adapting to regulations.
There are already a number of Xiaomi products in the United States, including its Android TV-powered set-top box named the Mi TV. Other Xiaomi devices that may be purchased in the country include headphones, a 360-degree camera, a battery pack, and a robot coding kit. Channels where customers may purchase Xiaomi products include Walmart and Amazon.
Xiaomi is looking to penetrate the U.S. market because the rapid growth of the Chinese smartphone market has started to taper off. For Xiaomi, the United States is an untapped market, especially as customers have started looking for cheaper alternatives to the increasingly expensive flagship smartphones of brands such as Apple and Samsung.
Will Xiaomi Be Pushed Away Like Huawei?
The success of Xiaomi to get its smartphones into the U.S. market, however, will largely depend on the country's carriers.
ZTE, a fellow smartphone maker from China, has forged partnerships with some carriers and has etched a respectable market share in the United States. This is the outcome that Huawei is looking for as it plans to start selling smartphones in the country.
Xiaomi, meanwhile, will look to avoid what happened to Huawei, another Chinese smartphone manufacturer. Huawei planned to launch its latest flagship device, the Mate 10 Pro, in the United States through a partnership with AT&T. However, AT&T pulled out of its Mate 10 Pro deal with Huawei at the last minute, with reports suggesting that it was due to political pressure. This resulted in the infamous speech of Huawei CEO Richard Yu at CES 2018, where he went off script to blast U.S. carriers.