For the first time ever, Xiaomi smartphones will be on sale in the U.S. Even though the company is not as well-known on the American market, Xiaomi is China’s most valuable startup, growing to be one of the biggest smartphone companies worldwide in just six years.
Recently valued at $45 billion, Xiaomi has focused of expanding in emerging markets like India, China, and South America, which more than welcomed its second-tier smartphones. So far, the company has declined to expand into Western markets.
And even this American launch does not carry Xiaomi signature, per se. Instead of being part of an “official” release, the devices are being imported and sold by mobile network US Mobile, as first reported by PC Magazine.
The devices that will be resold in the U.S. won’t support 4g LTE connectivity, which actually makes sense seeing they weren’t manufactured for the American market. At the same time, some of Xiaomi’s best smartphones – including the Mi Note – won’t be available, because US Mobile does not import that line.
Instead, Americans can choose from the lower-end Redmi 2, Mi 3, and Mi 4, all of which range between $119 and $219. Often referred to as the “Apple of China,” Xiaomi has created an extraordinarily loyal consumer base for its devices – something akin to the Apple craze in the U.S.
After Jony Ive, the head of Apple design, called Xiaomi’s designs “theft” in 2014, a bit of controversy ensued. By the second half of 2015, however, the hype surrounding the company started dying down, and analysts changed their mind about Xiaomi’s growth and design. It turns out they’re “no longer growing so fast and they’re not as good as Apple.”
And now, US Mobile wants to gibe Americans their first taste of the company, but low-end devices with malfunctions is probably not what Xiaomi hoped to project. When the company does start to officially sell devices in the country, things might look a bit different.
However, Xiaomi’s VP of international, Hugo Barra, said last they don’t plan to expand to the American or European market for “a few years.” Speaking of which, the company has reached out and explained that US Mobile is not their official partner, which means they have not authorization of selling the company’s products in the US.
UPDATE: After Xiaomi’s statement, it seems like US Mobile has updated its listing on the website, removing all three Xiaomi smartphones. Even though there’s a chance they will be relisted, that’s not likely at this point.
Image Source: IB Times