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Xiaomi again crushes hopes of bringing smartphones to U.S. and U.K.

by Killian Bell | April 25, 2017April 25, 2017 5:00 am PST

Xiaomi has again crushed our hopes that it will expand its reach into the U.S. or the U.K. in the near future. The Chinese company hasn’t ruled out the move completely, but as things stand, it wants to focus on prioritizing the countries it already serves without spreading itself too thin.

Back in August 2016, then Xiaomi vice president Hugo Barra promised the company would be launching smartphones in the U.S. “in the near future.” Eight months on, there is still no sign of that happening, and according to current global vice president Wang Xiang, it’s not something Xiaomi is planning any time soon. However, the company is aware there are “Mi fans” out there in other markets.

“Even though we don’t sell [in the US or Western Europe], we feel very sorry for not serving them well,” Wang told Engadget during a recent interview. “What we’re after is a mass market, a massive impact, as opposed to a premium, elite thing. We want innovation for everyone.” Wang added Xiaomi’s resources are already stretched serving the 30 countries it currently serves.

Wang also noted that one of the things that makes it difficult to sell handsets in the U.S. is how the market is driven by carriers, which like to have their input when it comes to software. Xiaomi’s engineering team is already “superbusy,” he said, and would struggle to meet their demands.

Of course, the company could follow the likes of OnePlus and sell its handsets exclusively off-contract. But Wang says that would be a “hot-headed” move that could burn bridges with carriers, which is something Xiaomi doesn’t want to do. It is concerned that short-term gain could potentially “ruin seven years’ worth of hard work on branding.”

“There’s a Chinese saying: ‘Haste makes waste.’ You need to focus with patience and wait for the perfect opportunity,” Wang said.

Xiaomi’s focus thus far has been on emerging markets, where its affordable handsets, which combine great design with impressive specifications, have been incredibly successful. The company has launched some products in the U.S., including batteries, speakers, and headphones — but fans want to get their hands on its smartphones, and they’ll just have to wait.


Killian Bell

Killian Bell is a 20-something technology journalist based in a tiny town in England. He has an obsession with that little company in Cupertino...