Hugo Barra was hired as Xiaomi’s Global Vice President in October of 2013 and has gone on to bring the brand from a China-centric operation to one that has gained quite a name in the international market. The brand has moved from just being a smartphone manufacturer to become one of the up-and-coming internet-of-things (IoT) device manufacturers in the market today. But with all this positive expansion, Xiaomi’s smartphones are still not available in the US market. Maybe soon, says Barra.
Xiaomi has recently entered into new markets including Russia, Mexico and the Middle East. In the next few months, we can also expect the brand to start showing up in Poland, Vietnam, Thailand, and a number of other Latin American markets. But getting into the US market is a different animal altogether, and Barra wants to make sure the company is ready before it jumps in.
Barra understands that Xiaomi is a relative newcomer to the US smartphone market, which incidentally uses odd bands that are not adopted in most parts of the world. And Barra plans to bed in with the US major carriers – these carriers are notriously strict in testing phones that they will carry. “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,” Barra said. “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.”
In the executive’s mind, it would probably a couple more years before he thinks Xiaomi will be ready for the US market. With them testing out bands on phones, it looks like Xiaomi is planning to be part of the US carriers’ product catalogs, rather than sell directly to consumers which other Chinese companies have done as an entry point into the US market. “We’re not going to launch something until we’re ready,” Barra said, which is probably a good thing.