When Hugo Barra announced last year that he’d be leaving his cushy at Google for an executive role as VP of Xiaomi Global — China’s premier smartphone maker — many assumed the next step for Xiaomi was to bring their popular Android handsets to the US.
Having practically cornered the Chinese market (they’re currently sitting pretty at #1 market share in China, #3 globally), a move into the US only seemed to make sense, especially given Hugo’s previous job experience. But if you were hoping to get your hands on one of their fancy “Mi” handsets in the US sometime soon, you probably shouldn’t hold you breath.
During a small press event today in San Francisco, Xiaomi revealed some of their plans to enter the US market this year — but not with their smartphones. Instead, Barra and his new friends announced that they’d be making available their line of accessories (headphones, Mi Band wearable, portable chargers, plushy dolls, etc.) via their online marketplace, Mi.com. No smartphones. No tablets. Just accessories. This is in an effort to help spread brand awareness. Awareness of a company and their hottest selling products you aren’t allowed to buy. Um… what?
So if not this year, when? According to the folks at The Verge, Mr. Barra made things very clear by saying, at present, a US phone launch is filled with too much red tape and isn’t even in the company’s roadmap. Ouch.