Xiaomi has announced plans for a mi.com US website. Jack Wallen ponders what this could mean for the mobile market.
The news cannot be good for the likes of Samsung, HTC, and Motorola. Very soon, Xiaomi will be launching a US-based mi.com website. This is one of the fastest growing mobile-based startups in history ─ and it's about to break into the US market.
That's right, the smartphones will not be made available at the ribbon cutting ceremony. Xiaomi does have a plan to bring the smartphones into the picture ─ when that will happen is yet to be seen. But Xiaomi has enough momentum behind them that should easily carry the brand into the smartphone market.
The US mi.com site should be live some time during Summer 2015. By then, you can be sure a deal will have been worked out to include their line of smartphones. This is a smart company ─ they know success in the US market will not come at the hands of fit bands, headphones, and other products that live in the shadow of smartphones. Xiaomi must bring their flagship devices to the US in order to succeed.
Understand this ─ Xiaomi is currently the third biggest producer of smartphones on the planet. Achieving that without including the US market is impressive. Once they pierce the veil of this vast consumer market, it'll be Androidageddon. Within months of a US launch, Xiaomi could rocket to the second largest producer of smartphones.
Their one stumbling block? Companies like AT&T and Verizon have an inordinate amount of control over the smartphone market. To that end, the extent of carrier subsidies could hinder Xiaomi's entrance into the market. With companies deeply entrenched within one another pocket's, Xiaomi might find pricing to be a major issue. For example, Xiaomi's flagship phone costs roughly $370.00 in China. That's an off-contract price. That's about half the price for an off-contract iPhone in America. I cannot imagine that will be the case here in the US ─ because the market isn't quite that simple. Apple and other companies will do everything they can to prevent Xiaomi from having a low barrier to entry ─ otherwise, they risk losing major ground to a startup company selling very powerful devices at rather low prices.
Thing is, Xiaomi coming to the US would be a huge win for consumers. Not only would there be a broader choice of devices to choose from, those devices (if this works out for Xiaomi) will be sold at prices unlike anything the US consumer has ever seen (especially for flagship devices).
That is precisely why other smartphone manufacturers will do everything they can to prevent this from happening. In fact, Bin Lin (president of Xiaomi) expects lawsuits ─ my guess is from Apple. Xiaomi has already been accused, by Apple, of infringing on IP. Xiaomi insists their products hold their own ... but have yet to be sued by Apple. When Xiaomi enters the US market, I would imagine that status to change. Apple will come at the young company ... but I believe their attempts at thwarting Xiaomi will ultimately fail. This could, however, wind up an ugly patent battle that could place major blocks in the road to Xiaomi's US success. Should the patent war not heat up, Xiaomi could easily take the market by storm. If the results of Xiaomi moving into the India market (100,000 devices sold out in 2.4 seconds), Xiaomi's success in the US should be a slam dunk. In the end, Xiaomi will wind up with a strong US presence and, single-handedly, reshape the landscape of the mobile market.
Are companies like Apple, Samsung, HTC, and Motorola ready to stand up to Androidageddon in the US? Do you think Xiaomi can pull off a feat no other start up company has ever managed?