In an exclusive Android Authority interview with former Google guru Hugo Barra, now Vice President Xiaomi Global, said, “We will start working on North America next year…It’s in the pipeline.” When he said “next year,” he meant 2015, as they already have 2014 mapped out with ten new markets they are preparing to enter. Barra knows that North America represents a very challenging market to make inroads…just look at the problems Sony is having, and they already have a name and reputation for themselves, and let us not forget HTC. Barra has to convince the U.S. that Xiaomi is not just another cheap Chinese smartphone company and this will not be easy task, but I think if any person or any company can do it, Bara and Xiaomi are the ones.
The U.S. market is different from many parts of the world when it comes to purchasing a smartphone – we are used to getting a large subsidiary from our carrier to buy the device on a two-year contract. We pay $200 to $300 for a flagship device, with more perceived features, power and build quality, so why would we pay $250 for a Xiaomi device…in our minds we are getting a $700 device for only a couple hundred of dollars, so why buy a $250 device – even if it has the same features. Barra said, “I believe in the future, people will be less and less tolerant to unnecessarily overpriced devices.” Barra may be correct, but he also has the U.S. carriers on his side as well – they would like nothing more than to get rid of subsidies and they seem to be working towards that goal.
Changing Western consumer’s perception of Xiaomi will be Barra’s biggest challenge, but one he believes is possible by “sitting down with them and show them what’s good about us.” From the way the company, Xiaomi, operates to their user interface will help to win them new customers. When Barra worked for Google, he (and others at Google) were very impressed with Xiaomi’s UI and he believes it is “superior to anything you see on the market,” and it is completely customizable – something that appeals to Western Android users. MIUI, as they call it, is called a “live OS,” because it is ever changing with updates rolling out on a weekly bases due to customer feedback.
That is the way that Xiaomi operates – they take input from their customers and make changes in both hardware and software on the fly…there are not years of development. Barra says, “We don’t believe that hardware needs to take a year to develop … (due to our limited production batches) we can change our hardware from one production batch to another.” It is this constant updating and dedication to the customer that Barra believes will win over the tech savvy customers, the world over, including the U.S. They are committed to offering the best performance at an unbeatable value.
Listening to customers is their advantage…something that has worked well for T-Mobile, and not so well for Samsung. With Xiaomi’s approach and Barra’s knowledge of our market, I look forward to their arrival in the U.S. Please let us know our our Google+ Page what you think of Xiaomi and their chances in the North American market…as always, we would love to hear from you.