Earlier this year, Xiaomi surprised people by holding an event in the US, we were in attendance at San Francisco when they announced that they were opening up Mi.com to the US, essentially bringing their online store outside of Asia, and to the West. That store is now open for business, but it doesn’t sell smartphones and instead sells some of the accessories that keep Chinese customers coming back to the brand time-after-time. That included things like earphones, headphones and of course the very affordable Mi Power Banks. Now, this store is to open in Europe shortly, but once again, the smartphones will stay in Asia.
Speaking on stage during an interview at Mobile World Congress this week, Hugo Barra had this to say on the store coming to Europe: It’s going to be a different Mi.com experience from what we have in our markets in Asia, because we’re not selling phones. We’re only going to sell a small number of our hero accessories, things like the Mi Band, studio-grade headphones, in-ear headphones and the world’s most popular power banks.” To many, this will come as a disappointment, as devices like Xiaomi’s Mi Note and Mi 4 are what people are really looking forward to getting their hands on.
However, this is a smart marketing tactic on their part; customers in the US and Europe will become familiar with the brand before they jump to selling smartphones. This essentially helps them build a brand presence without risking launching devices that might not necessarily sell very well. We’re not sure why Xiaomi is so reluctant to move their smartphones West, but we’d assume that getting legal affairs in order has a lot to do with it. After all, in China it’s easy for anyone to make a device that, shall we say, ‘borrows’ technology from the West, but selling it outside of Asia is a whole different ball game. It’s one that Xiaomi will need to learn if they’re to become skilled at if they want to become an international force.