It says it plans to enter the US smartphone market in late 2018 or 2019. What makes this news odd is that it comes just several weeks after rival Huawei, which appeared to have a head start, had its hopes dashed when a partnership with AT&T was scuttled.
While both companies said the parting was mutual, the decision came after intense political pressure from U.S. politicians who worried that Huawei's technology poses security risks for US businesses and customers.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Xiaomi chair Lei Jun told one of its hacks: "We've always been considering entering the U.S. market. We plan to start entering the market by end 2018, or by early 2019." In general, while Chinese tech companies have become massive primarily by succeeding on their home turf, they are facing challenges in exporting that success to Western markets.
Huawei is flogging an unlocked version of its Mate10 Pro in the US, positioning it as a premium Android device to rival Apple’s iPhone X. Xiaomi could certainly go the same route. But without the marketing muscle of a carrier and the push on the sales floor in carrier stores, it might face headwinds.