Xiaomi Enters US Mobile Market (Sort of)

by Matt Klassen on May 19, 2015

Rising mobile star Xiaomi is finally setting up shop in the US and the UK, but with relatively little fanfare and the noted absence of anything, well, mobile. China’s hottest mobile commodity announced it will be launching a mobile marketplace this week available to western consumers, but the shop will only sell a few tertiary mobile products and mobile accessories, with no smartphones or tablets offered at this time.

At launch on Monday evening Xiaomi’s online marketplace was set to offer a few select items, including a pair of portable battery packs, the $80 Mi Headphones, and the $15 Mi Band activity tracker.

While unquestionably tentative, Xiaomi’s online marketplace serves as the first baby steps for the company in expanding its brand into the most competitive, cutthroat (and not to mention saturated) mobile markets in the world, meaning if the company’s initial efforts are well received, we may actually see China’s brightest mobile star bring some actual mobile technology to the North American market in the coming months.

I’ll admit at the outset that I’m a little disappointed about Xiaomi’s reluctance to bring actual mobile products to the US and UK markets, as I’m excited to see what a company so heavily compared to Apple in its products, approach, and marketing acumen could do in this market. But that said, I’m not surprised Xiaomi is taking a reserved approach, as western mobile markets have stalled (and outright killed) many rising stars before, and Xiaomi certainly wants to avoid that fate.

Unlike Apple, though, Xiaomi has built its empire by marrying the Cupertino Company’s approach of high end phones with Nokia’s traditional strategy of quantity over quality, as Xiaomi offers much of catalogue of over 1000 products at or near cost, effectively making it the Amazon of the mobile market. The company’s low cost approach has allowed it to dominate in emerging markets, places where Apple and Samsung products are simply out of reach.

While one might think such a low cost approach is yet another reason for the company’s reticence towards entering the western markets, current trends find that consumers across North America and Europe are increasingly looking towards budget friendly options, meaning a niche is quickly opening that Xiaomi could possibly fill.

Further, Xiaomi’s caution speaks to the company’s overall market strategy, to present itself not simply as a gadget maker, but instead, like Apple, a company that speaks to a comprehensive digital existence. “We increasingly see ourselves as a lifestyle brand,” Hugo Barra, Xiaomi’s global vice president, said in March, speaking of the pending move into Western markets.

In the end, look for Xiaomi’s humble beginnings in the western mobile markets to be just that, a beginning, the start of the company’s attempt to infiltrate our digital existence and establish itself as the answer to all our mobile solutions.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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