Proving it’s not afraid of Samsung or LG, Xiaomi will soon put its products on sale in South Korea, but like the approach it has taken in the U.S., its massively popular smartphones will not be among them. Yet.
Xiaomi has signed deals with local retailers Koma Trade and Youmi, making them official retail sellers of Xiaomi hardware in the country. In China, Xiaomi operates as a primarily online brand, and doesn’t have its own retail network of stores. Several online retailers will also carry Xiaomi hardware. It’s possible to buy Xiaomi products in South Korea already, but through importers rather than officially.
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If it’s not selling phones, then what Xiaomi products will eager South Koreans be able to purchase? It’ll be Xiaomi’s accessory and smart products, including the Xiaomi Mi Band activity tracker, the company’s various battery packs, its headphones, and the Ninebot scooter. The news comes a few weeks after Xiaomi signed a similar agreement with two local online retailers to sell its smart TV range and smart air purifiers in South Korea.
However, while this may appear to be Xiaomi’s way of slowly increasing its brand presence in South Korea, it may not be prepared to wait long before adding its smartphones to the list of devices on sale. A patent for Xiaomi Pay — its mobile payment service, that’s also known as Mi Pay — has been filed in South Korea, and it’s not for use on anything except its phones. The timing is also interesting, as it comes just a few days after Samsung launched Samsung Pay in China.
There’s no official proof the phones will follow the accessories, or if Xiaomi’s just protecting the Mi Pay name with the patent, but this isn’t the first time it has made an effort to get its phones on sale in South Korea. At the beginning of the year, local carrier KT Telecom supplied an online retailer with the Xiaomi Redmi Note 3, where it was sold for a very low cost. However, this lasted for just two days, and speculation is that pressure on the telecom firm from Samsung and LG saw them removed from sale. This was denied by both companies.
Xiaomi’s trying a different approach now, but the endgame will still be the same — Xiaomi phones battling Samsung and LG hardware on home soil.