- Xiaomi could make its long-awaited debut in the US smartphone market later this year.
- Chairman Lei Jun says US push could come by “end 2018, or by early 2019”.
- Would Xiaomi have more success than Huawei?
Xiaomi has flirted with the idea of bringing its Android-powered Mi phones across the Atlantic numerous times in the past few years, but various – often unexplained – circumstances have stopped a full launch campaign.
Now, the resurgent Chinese OEM is once again teasing its fans in the states. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal (via The Verge) the company’s chairman, Lei Jun, said: “We plan to start entering the market by end 2018, or by early 2019.”
Xiaomi does sell some of its wares, like the Mi Box and certain accessories, in the US, but it has yet to officially bring its smartphones to the region.
Buoyed by its incredible success in India’s emergent market and its early steps into Western Europe late last year, the Beijing-based firm is now apparently looking to capitalize and expand into the second-largest smartphone scene in the world.
Before we get too carried away predicting the launch of the next Mi flagship in the US, however, it’s worth noting that there are several factors that could scupper Xiaomi’s potential plans.
The most obvious roadblock is the same one China’s biggest player, Huawei, (and to a lesser extent ZTE) encountered when attempting to bring its flagships phones to US carriers. As a quick reminder, it did not go well.
The messy situation has become a political hotbed fueled by warnings from FBI, CIA and NSA chiefs, a proposed telecommunications ban, and outspoken comments from Huawei’s current CEO, all of which center around concerns over the company’s alleged ties to the Chinese government.
Would Xiaomi avoid similar accusations and general fearmongering? That remains to be seen, but major carriers – an essential ingredient to success in the US market – may balk at the idea of striking up an agreement with another Chinese OEM after being so badly burned the last time.
There’s also some sense in questioning how much weight we should be putting behind Lei Jun’s words at the moment. As Bloomberg notes, Xiaomi is reportedly eying a potential $100 billion IPO later this year and the vague promise of a US market push would seriously help fatten its valuation.
That being said, the fact that the subject is on the table at all is good news for Xiaomi fans in the US. Make sure to give us your thoughts in the comments below.