Xiaomi may be a juggernaut in the Chinese smartphone market, but it’s a relative unknown in the West, specifically in the U. S. of A. Unfortunately, for those looking to buy a Xiaomi smartphone without importing one, that might continue, said Xiaomi vice president of international Hugo Barra in an interview with Recode.
In the interview, Barra implied that Xiaomi doesn’t look to sell its smartphones in the United States, a stance the company took back in May. The ex-Googler reiterated that stance, further saying the company will continue to test the waters by selling accessories through its online store. These accessories include the $15 Mi Band, two external battery packs, and the $80 Mi Headphones.
As for why Xiaomi isn’t directly selling its smartphones in the United States, Barra points one of his fingers to the relative lack of people buying full-price unlocked smartphones in the U.S. Xiaomi sells all of its phones unlocked, a business practice that poses a problem when you enter a region where the popular method of buying a phone involves a two-year contract.
Even though entering a two-year contract usually costs customers more than just buying the phone unlocked and buying a cheaper, prepaid plan, Barra argued that U.S. customers are less price-sensitive than those in China. Furthermore, setting up a customer service base in the U.S. would take a few years to get right, something Xiaomi doesn’t seem to be in a rush about.
However, in unrelated news, Barra did tease the successor to the company’s Mi Band, which allowed Xiaomi to capture around 25 percent of the wearables market. Barra said the Mi Band doesn’t have a heart monitor “yet,” implying there could be a refresh in the near future.
Regardless, it’s not very surprising why Xiaomi seems hesitant to introduce all of its wares to the U.S. market. Besides the argument that its smartphone designs seem very inspired by a certain Cupertino company, Xiaomi would enter a market where the likes of Apple and Samsung have captured not only the majority of market share, but mind share as well. To wrestle that control away would be a gargantuan task for any company, even a company such as Xiaomi.
With that said, Xiaomi still seems very interested in selling its smartphones in the U.S. market, and time will tell when Xiaomi will get everything together to do so.