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Xiaomi's Hugo Barra crushes dreams of an imminent handset launch in the US

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Xiaomi's Hugo Barra crushes dreams of an imminent handset launch in the US
Speaking at a recent Re/Code conference, Xiaomi Vice President Hugo Barra shared some insight on the company's approach towards the US market.

Although most of the interview is focused on common topics for Xiaomi officials, such as the company's price-aggressive business model, or its ambitions of securing a foothold in the emerging Indian market, at some point, the focus was turned to Xiaomi's plans for the US.

Unfortunately for those who wanted to hear a specific time frame for the first Xiaomi handset launch in the US, the answer was not as specific as that. Instead, Barra reiterated Xiaomi's plans to test the waters in the US by selling accessories - such as the $15 Mi Band and a headphone range - through its online web store. Referring to the Mi Band, Barra hinted at the fact that a second-generation Mi Band could integrate a heart rate sensor.

According to Barra, Xiaomi does have plans to extend its handset business to the United States, but the VP of International left the impression that this won't be happening anytime soon, which is exactly the same position that Barra took in a similar interview back in late May. The Xiaomi executive said that his company will have to overcome a series of disadvantages for a successful launch in the US. 

The first hurdle that Barra mentioned is the fact that full-price unlocked smartphones - a crucial part of Xiaomi's business model, and the only way that Xiaomi sells its handsets - are not very popular in the US, where most people still purchase their handset through carrier subsidies. Furthermore, Barra also spoke of the fact that setting up a decent customer service base in the US would take years to set up correctly, and that US customers are less price-sensitive compared to Xiaomi's audience in Asia.

There's little doubt that a successful handset launch on US shores would mean a lot for the company's international prestige. For now, it looks like the company is looking for more financially profitable endeavours. The upcoming step in Xiaomi's expansion plan seems to be a successful penetration of the Indian market, one where Xiaomi's customer base is prominent.

source: Re/Code

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