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New deal with Nokia may accelerate Xiaomi’s stalled global launch plans

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Andy Boxall/Digital Trends
Popular Chinese smartphone brand Xiaomi has signed a business deal with Nokia, allowing the pair to cross-license patents, and potentially work together on some cutting-edge technology products in the future. While intriguing enough on its own, the deal may assist Xiaomi in breaking into new international markets, which it has slowly been doing over the past few years.

On the surface, the partnership is technical in nature, with the cooperation agreement covering Nokia’s infrastructure equipment, and a plan for the two to work on projects such as IP Routing, network processors, and other telecoms systems. Important, but not something to get overly excited about, unless you’re really into infrastructure tech.

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This is where things start to get more interesting. The two companies will start exploring other areas where they can cooperate, ranging from augmented and virtual reality, to AI and the Internet of Things. Xiaomi already produces a wide range of products outside of smartphones, including connected smart home devices, and has its own app ecosystem through the Mi Store. It’s easy to see where both companies may benefit here, and Nokia’s very keen to partner with major brands at the moment, evidenced by the new deal with optics experts Zeiss.

As part of the new deal, Xiaomi gets unnamed patent assets from Nokia, a smartphone brand that happily sells its products all round the world. Xiaomi sells devices in 30 countries, and has yet to sell its smartphones officially in the United States, the United Kingdom, or Europe. Could the deal see the company push further out into the world, and lead to internationally friendly devices being released? We put the question to Xiaomi, and a spokesman told us:

“Xiaomi’s agreement with Nokia will give Xiaomi licenses for more product design freedom in fundamental technologies. This will propel Xiaomi further and faster in their global expansion journey as they build products for customers across the world. Xiaomi believes that sustainable, long-term partnerships with global technology leaders such as Nokia are laying the foundation for their globalization and will help them in terms of brand recognition around the world. In the long term, Xiaomi’s investments in research and development will help to create new and better products, services, and experiences for the benefit of their customers.”

While the statement is noncommittal regarding the type of devices Xiaomi envisages emerging from the Nokia partnership, it’s certainly indicating those that do, have a strong chance of being sold globally. After we’ve been cruelly denied easy access to devices like the innovative Mi Mix, and the new Mi 6, we’ll take this as good news. However, it’s worth remembering the agreement may not lead to smartphones being put on sale in new markets, and instead may apply to the company’s smart home products, or may never actually extend beyond infrastructure. That said, it’s obvious Xiaomi is working to get its products into more hands around the world.

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