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Hugo Barra talks about Xiaomi's long-term US plan
Xiaomi Global VP Hugo Barra has been speaking to Re/code again, this time to shed a little light on the company’s longer term plans for the US market, among other things.
Plenty of topics are covered in the talk, ranging from the company’s low cost business model, to India expansion and the hotly contested and fast growing Chinese market. The US bit starts at around the 11:30 mark, although it sadly doesn’t give a date on when we’ll see the first Xiaomi handset in the country, as a time frame has not been set yet.
Instead, the Mi Store launch is the first part of the plan. Xiaomi is looking to build brand awareness by introducing its ultra-competitively price products, like the $15 Mi Band and its headphone range, to US consumers first. Speaking of the Mi Band, in the interview Barra says that it does not have a heart monitor “yet”, which is a big hint that a Mi Band refresh may be on the way soon.
A US launch does seem to be planned at some point, but Barra is acutely aware of the differences between Xiaomi’s existing markets and the US, and seems in no hurry to rush a launch. According to Barra, US customers are less price sensitive and there’s a different carrier market compared with Asia, which Xiaomi is going to have to address come any US Launch.
Xiaomi plans to stick to its upfront pricing model in every region that it sells its phones, as this showcases the company’s value for money aspect. Fortunately for Xiaomi, the US market is also beginning to favour this purchasing method over carrier contracts. There is also the issue of building a decent customer service base in the country, which is something the Xiaomi CEO says would take years to setup correctly.
It looks like a US release for Xiaomi smartphones is still a way off, but the cogs are beginning to turn. The company is clearly still focused on the Indian market, where it stands to grab a bigger share of one of the industry’s fastest growing markets.
Would you be interested in Xiaomi’s low cost, high-end products if/when they arrive in the US?