Xiaomi eyeing lucrative U.S. market

Given the tough entry barriers in the form of carrier lab tests, the company is trying to get its act together before it attempts a launch sometime in 2017.

From being a China-centric smartphone Xiaomi has gradually evolved, has taken on international colours and in the process has expanded its global footprint.

Recently, Xiaomi has entered Vietnam, Thailand, the Middle East, Mexico, Russia and a couple of other Latin American markets. You may have noticed it is missing a key region – the U.S.

Although the company is keeping its cards close to its chest, Hugo Barra, Xiaomi’s global vice president, revealed that currently tests are being held in the U.S. for an eventual launch.

Such a commitment is an important milestone for the country since lab tests of U.S. carriers are notoriously tough.

Mobile networks in the U.S. use odd bands which are not widely adopted worldwide, thus, in order to ensure compatibility, local carriers are notoriously tough when it comes to testing phones that want to be deployed across their networks.

This is exactly the kind of deal established mobile manufacturing companies are looking for, since it guarantees voluminous sale since the big carriers will have a sufficiently large customer base.

While existing players are familiar with the requirements and the process, for Xiaomi, a newcomer, it is totally new.

Barra reckons it will be a year or two before Xiaomi is ready for a U.S. launch.

“Earlier this year we had a special version of Mi 5 that we made just for testing in the US, just so that we can start testing and doing small-field trials to sharpen our chops, if you will,” said Barra.

He went on to add, “And now we have Mi Note 2 which is another device that we can use for some field testing in the US. That’s again just another small step in the right direction or in the direction of being able to launch full-on products there.”

Xiaomi could follow the pattern of other Chinese brands and sell directly to U.S. customers after all it is offering its 4K Android TV box and accessories in U.S. stores.

But it would appear that Xiaomi is intent on the carrier lab tests.

“We’re not going to launch something until we’re ready,” said Barra in reference to the technical preparation and team bandwidth required for a US launch.

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