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Xiaomi plans to open online store in U.S. but won't sell phones

February 12, 2015 04:30 PM
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(Bloomberg Business)—Xiaomi, the rising Chinese smartphone maker, is taking its first, small step into the U.S. market. The company announced plans to open the Mi.com web site in the U.S. and other unspecified markets over the next few months. The site will not sell the company’s popular smartphones or tablets, but will carry other products, such as health bands, power chargers and headphones.

Xiaomi, No. 3 in the Internet Retailer China 500, “can bring these products to market much faster because they are simpler to take to market," Hugo Barra, Xiaomi’s vice president of international, said at a news conference in San Francisco on Thursday. “We intend to launch in here in the U.S. and perhaps a few other markets, and see how it goes. Hopefully it will be the beginning of really having America experience the Xiaomi brand and quality and craftsmanship of our products.”

Xiaomi sells its products in China and seven other markets, including Singapore, Taiwan and India. The company is, by some accounts, the No. 1 smartphone maker in China, selling more handsets there than Apple or Samsung Electronics. It was valued by investors in a fundraising round late last year at $45 billion. The company, founded in 2010, says it has 100 million active users around the world.

Xiaomi phones have been criticized by Apple design chief Jony Ive and others for having a similar look to the iPhone. Lin Bin, Xiaomi's co-founder and president, says it's been filing thousands of patents because lawsuits are an inevitability. "This is something we expect to happen," he says. The company has no plans to stage an initial public offering in the “foreseeable future” or in the next “three to five years,” Lin says.

 

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