Chinese smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi hinted at entering Italy with a Mi Home store, taking to Facebook to post an image saying "hi Italy" on Monday. While the teaser has been deleted in the meantime, it has soon been reposted by an unverified Xiaomi Italy page. The company has yet to clarify whether it's planning to establish a physical retail presence in the Mediterranean country going forward, though doing so would be in line with its global expansion strategy that has recently been placing an increased focus on Europe. Late last year, Xiaomi officially entered Spain and has also been committing more resources to advertising its products in Russia.
While Xiaomi-made devices are available for purchase from various online storefronts like Amazon and Gearbest in most parts of Europe, the company still doesn't have a major distribution network on the Old Continent, whereas its smartphones that are being sold in Europe are largely offered by resellers. The original equipment manufacturer is now showing interest in having a more direct retail presence in Europe, possibly encouraged by its massive success in India where it's already challenging Samsung for the title of the largest local smartphone vendor only three years after entering the South Asian country. With a population of over 60 million that's more than 30 percent larger than that of Spain, Italy represents another major European growth opportunity for Xiaomi.
Even though the company struggled to justify its $44 billion valuation immediately after raising money as part of its Series E funding round in 2015, last year saw its operations largely rejuvenated due to improved domestic performance and significant growth in India, with the surprisingly positive results ultimately serving as the catalyst for Xiaomi's plans to hold an initial public offering in 2018 which has been widely reported in recent months. The firm is now said to be seeking a valuation no smaller than $50 billion that may end up being twice as high, depending on its performance in the immediate future, and expanding to markets that lack aggressively priced smartphones appears to be its safest strategy for achieving significant near-term growth, according to many industry watchers. Xiaomi's IPO is expected to be held in Hong Kong in the second half of the year.