Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi is looking to get into the US market in 2019, according to the company’s senior vice president, Wang Xiang. “Next year we hope we can do something there,” Wang said in an interview with Reuters. However, he also clarified that talks with US carriers are still on and there is some way to go before Xiaomi can officially establish a presence in the country.
Xiaomi first built its base in China where it continues to maintain a strong presence, but has also expanded to other key global markets including India and parts of Europe. The company’s focus on budget phones and value-driven pricing has helped it become the top smartphone maker in India, while it also builds up its reputation in other markets. The US is the world’s third largest smartphone market by volume, and is an important one for any smartphone maker.
However, the US is also the most developed smartphone market in the world, and tends to be driven by premium products such as the Apple iPhone series, Google’s Pixel series and the premium Samsung Galaxy S and Note lines. While there is definitely scope for budget and mid-range devices even in the US, the high dependence on carrier support and the tendency to go with carrier contracts will make things a bit difficult for Xiaomi.
Furthermore, the current political climate in the US is against the interests of Chinese technology companies, with Huawei and ZTE being on the receiving end of sanctions and controls imposed by the US Government. However, smaller Chinese manufacturers such as OnePlus have been able to crack into the market, primarily selling unlocked devices to advanced users, rather than going with a mass-market approach.
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However, Wang Xiang doesn’t think of the political climate as a problem for Xiaomi, according to the Reuters report. He believes that since Xiaomi is just in the business of consumer products, it’s unlikely to run into the same trouble that Huawei and ZTE have been facing, since those two companies also build network infrastructure equipment. If Xiaomi does manage to work out its entry into the US, it could open up new potential for the maverick smartphone maker, which has already done a fine job in establishing itself in India and China.