Fast-growing Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi has taken a tentative first step to becoming an international player after it opened the doors to its Mi.com online store in the U.S., UK, France and Germany.
The company has produced some of the best Android devices on the market, which retail for a fraction of the cost of Apple’s iPhone or Samsung’s Galaxy S series, but those are not available in the West right now. Instead, Mi.com is selling Xiaomi’s wide range of accessories, which include items such as its popular power packs, its Mi Band wearable, and impressive $79.99 Mi Headphones.
We can speculate why Xiaomi’s opening product roster doesn’t include smartphones like the Mi 4 or Mi 4 Note phablet (which we’re big fans of) — potential legal and patent issues with industry rivals spring to mind, although Xiaomi has pointed out that the popularity of carrier deals makes the U.S. and other Western markets tough — but either way this is a first step to internationalize its brand. (Xiaomi currently sells smartphones in 11 countries in Asia, including China and India.)
The Chinese firm is all too commonly associated with ‘ripping off’ Apple’s design, but that statement massively underestimates the innovation and thinking that goes into creating a device that competes with the best in the industry at just one-third of the pricepoint. (Plus, if you’ve played with a recent Xiaomi phone, you’ll quickly realize that it bears as much similarity to an iPhone as plenty of other touchscreen phones.)
If you live in the U.S., UK, France or Germany, you can now head to Mi.com to get a little insight into the fuss behind the company, which is valued at $45 billion and projected to ship 100 million smartphones this year.