Xiaomi will press ahead with plans to enter the United States next year, politics be damned. The Chinese OEM has expressed confidence in its US connections and focus on consumer products to protect it from the political pressure that has rocked its compatriot companies.
Speaking to Reuters on Tuesday, Xiaomi Senior Vice President Wang Xiang maintained that the US market was “very attractive” and that the company was devoting its engineering resources to develop versions of its handsets that are compatible with US cell networks.
“Next year we hope we can do something there,” Wang said, although he admitted that talks with US carriers are yet to produce concrete agreements.
We've all got that friend who's confident about getting into the most exclusive clubs. "Don't worry," they say with a wink, "I've got connections". Well, from the looks of it, Xiaomi thinks it's the cool kid in the world of the Chinese OEMs.
It's a tough time for a Chinese firm looking to enter the US market. Increasing trade tension between China and the US as President Donald Trump champions tariffs on Chinese imports doesn't help, but the main concern has to do with the potential of high-tech devices to spy on US citizens.
National security concerns over the relationship of Chinese tech firms to the Communist Party have led to Huawei handsets such as the Mate 10 Pro being blacklisted by US carriers, and even the firm’s network equipment has been placed under scrutiny.
ZTE has also felt the heat, with the company almost shutting down after being barred from buying American components earlier this year as punishment for violating trade sanctions. On Monday, state-backed China Mobile Ltd became the latest Chinese telecom firm denied turned away by the bouncers for security reasons.
Trade war? Xiaomi's got friends in the right places
Who are these friends? Well, Wang cited Xiaomi’s relationships with suppliers such as US chipmaker Qualcomm and Alphabet Inc, which makes the Android operating system via Google.
“We don’t see any reason for us to get into that political problem”
According to Wang, the tense political environment introduced “uncertainty” but that Xiaomi remains undaunted and will continue with plans for expansion into the US. “We don’t see any reason for us to get into that political problem,” said Wang, who ran Qualcomm’s China operations before joining Xiaomi in 2015.
Wang stated that Xiaomi was strictly focused on the consumer market and that many of its engineers and investors were American. This would help the company have a smoother entry into a difficult market.
Xiaomi's devices could shake up a stagnant US market
Xiaomi is known for low-priced, high-performance smartphones,and if they could score the right deals with carriers, the introduction of impressive devices such as the Mi Mix 2S or the Mi 8 could really give the market a shake-up and force dominant players Apple and Samsung to react to the cheaper competition.
Take a look at the latest Xiaomi flagship, the Mi 8, in our unboxing video:
Xiaomi has been losing ground to competitors in its home ground of China but has more than made up for this with international success. The brand is now the biggest smartphone vendor in India and is pushing into European markets including Spain and Russia. You know what they say, a prophet is often underappreciated in their own country.
Here at AndroidPIT we've generally been impressed with the quality and design of Xiaomi devices, that definitely deserve to be appreciated by a wider market. Only time will tell if Xiaomi's connections will be enough let them through the door and grant them success in the US, or if worsening political tension will leave them on the curb, but one thing's for sure: Xiaomi isn't afraid.
What do you think of Xiaomi devices being sold stateside? Are there any that you'd like to get your hands on?