Xiaomi has been very active in India lately, but the Chinese powerhouse is now looking to open shop in the first country outside of Asia, Brazil.
Over the past year, Xiaomi made the jump to its first markets outside China, and is now operating in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and India. In India, Xiaomi launched in July 2014, and it soon managed to become an established name in the cutthroat market, having sold a million devices in the first six months.
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Now the $46 billion company is looking towards another large, dynamic market: Brazil. Talking to the press in Taiwan, Hugo Barra (a native of Brazil) said Xiaomi will begin selling its affordable devices in Brazil within three months. The company has had an office in Sao Paulo since August, but now it’s finally ready to open up shop in earnest.
Because Brazil has very high import tariffs for electronics, Xiaomi may even begin manufacturing some of its device in the country, said Barra.
“You cannot be in business in Brazil without manufacturing locally because you cannot import phones… the import tax is too high. The system is designed to force everybody to manufacture locally, so we have to abide by the system,” Xiaomi’s head of global expansion said.
By manufacturing devices in Brazil, Xiaomi would follow in the tracks of other mobile giants that operate factories in the South American country, with LG and Motorola being some of the best known examples. Xiaomi’s manufacturing partner, Foxconn, also has large phone factories there. According to Barra, Xiaomi could even prioritize Brazil manufacturing over India.
Brazil is one of the key markets that Xiaomi announced it would target first as part of its global expansion. Other countries on the list are Turkey, Russia, and Mexico.
Xiaomi is also establishing a presence in the US, through an accessories store, though the company said it’s not yet ready to sell smartphones here. Developed markets pose different challenges to Xiaomi, with rich and established competitors, as well as stringent IP legislation seen as the biggest obstacles.