Chinese tech company Xiaomi, who makes the Mi line of smartphones, is looking to break into the U.S. market. According to the company’s senior vice president, Wang Xiang, it’s looking at next year as a starting point.
“Next year we hope we can do something there,” Wang told Reuters, calling the U.S. market “very attractive.”
But, for the Chinese smartphone maker, selling its phones in the U.S.A. is going to be a challenge.
A chief rival of Xiaomi, Huawei, had big plans for expansion into the U.S. market too. Huawei was aiming to begin a big push into America, complete with carrier announcements, at CES 2018. But but just before the show AT&T reportedly pulled out of the deal after people in the Trump administration made clear their opposition to Chinese tech companies strengthening their presence in the U.S. market.
What happened to Huawei serves as a warning to Xiaomi
Unable to strike a deal with any U.S. carriers with U.S. politicians calling for a ban on the company’s products due to national security concerns, Huawei still has no carrier partner to sell its phones Stateside.
It’s not just Huawei. Other Chinese mobile companies have hit roadblock after roadblock in their efforts to make inroads into the U.S. market, and in some cases it’s been catastrophic. Earlier this week the FCC blocked China Mobile from doing business in the U.S., citing security issues. Before that, the U.S. forbade ZTE from purchasing equipment from American companies as punishment for trade sanction violations. However, when President Trump stepped in and promised to help the Chinese smartphone company.
With all these obstacles in mind, Xiaomi is sounding confident. “We don’t see any reason for us to get into that political problem,” Wang said to Reuters, citing a strong relationship with Qualcomm, where he was a former executive, and Google. Wang went on to point out that Xiaomi is fundamentally different from ZTE and Huawei since it only makes products for the consumer market, while the latter two also build network infrastructure.
Xiaomi has found success in the European market. The company rolled out in a few countries across Europe over the past two years, with additional country launches in the works. In the current climate a successful launch in the U.S. would be a lot harder, but if Xiaomi pulls it off, it could open up big things for the company.