Xiaomi, the leading Chinese smartphone maker is planning to start selling its smartphones in the US as early this year. The company has been rumored to enter the US market since 2016 but it seems that Western expansion will finally happen this year.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Xiaomi is planning to enter the US market by the end of 2018 or by early 2019. At the sidelines of China’s annual legislative session in Beijing, Lei Jun, Chairman, Xiaomi Corp. told the Journal, “We’ve always been considering entering the US market”.
Xiaomi is currently the leading smartphone maker in India and is the fourth largest smartphone maker in its home market. Having achieved success in India and other Southeast Asian market, the company was expected to expand to other markets such as North America and Europe. Xiaomi recently opened its own retail store in Spain suggesting its plan to expand to Western markets.
However, it won’t be an easy path for Xiaomi to enter the US market. In the US, Xiaomi will have to face stiff resistance from established names like Apple and Samsung and most importantly negotiate a deal with carriers like AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile to sell its devices in the store.
Early this year, Huawei, the leading Chinese smartphone brand and the third largest smartphone maker globally, struggled to enter the US market. The US telecom carriers pulled out from a deal at the last moment forcing the company to sell its flagship device like the Mate 10 and Mate 10 Pro as unlocked smartphone. Most reports from US media suggest Huawei received pushback from telecom carriers in the US due to national security concern raised by US intelligence officials.
Xiaomi with its Chinese origin could also face a similar push back. Huawei says that such concerns from US intelligence officials are misplaced. Jun told the Journal that he understands that expanding in the US won’t be easy and it will need time to understand local laws and regulations. However, he did not share his views on devices made by Chinese companies being billed as national security concerns.
ZTE Corporation is the only Chinese smartphone brand to have created a presence in the US market. According to Counterpoint Research, it had a market share of around 11 percent, which pales in comparison to that of Apple and Samsung’s market share. Xiaomi, after a brief decline in sales in 2016, made a comeback with strong volume growth across product segments last year. The company dethroned Samsung as the leading smartphone brand in India at the end of fourth quarter of 2017.
Bloomberg reported in December that Xiaomi could be valued at more than $50 billion when it lists itself in a Hong Kong IPO. The company is reportedly planning to raise at least $10 billion, making it one of the biggest tech IPO this year. Post listing, Xiaomi could be valued between $80 billion and $100 billion.