Xiaomi's Wang: We're coming to the USA

Wants a 2019 entry. Good luck with that

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Chinese tech darling Xiaomi, flush with cash from a private equity placement, thinks there's never been a better time to crack the US market.

Senior veep Wang Xiang said it was developing US-specific smartphone models with a 2019 launch in mind, Reuters has reported. However, carriers have to sign up to a deal.

Xiaomi expects to ship 100 million phones this year, not an unreasonable target given that it moved some 28 million phones in the last quarter of 2017.

And it leads the world of wearables with Apple, after flooding the market with cut-price fitness bling. However, despite much hype, the company has stayed away from the US until now.

The chill in US-Sino trade relations has caused problems for China's biggest global operators. China Mobile is the latest major Middle Kingdom operation to be rebuffed after the US refused it a licence to operate a network there. State-owned ZTE maintains a US presence – just – after a near-death brush with Congress.

The Federal Communications Commission has tried to block Huawei, which the employee-owned operation considers unconstitutional and a breach of the Due Process Clause, the Communications Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act.

"No one doubts that the promotion of national security is a legitimate goal for a government to pursue. Congress, however, has not assigned the role of pursuing that goal to the Commission – at least not in this context," lawyers for Huawei wrote (PDF).

With such a hostile environment, isn't Xiaomi worried? Apparently not. It told Reuters it had good relations with Qualcomm and Google, two essential suppliers for its smartphone business. That's what Huawei and ZTE thought too – but Huawei is developing its own platform, just in case the chill becomes an Ice Age.

Xiaomi has vowed never to make more than 5 per cent margin on its hardware – something analysts believe will be hard to maintain. Particularly if the services and software revenue doesn't pan out. Remember that, outside China, it's competing with Google, which means it's competing against free stuff.

That's enough to deflate any Wang. ®




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