Xiaomi Expands Its Empire To Brazil, Will Sell First Smartphone There July 7

Xiaomi, the $45 billion valued Chinese firm ranked the world’s third-largest smartphone maker, has taken its first step outside of Asia after launching its business in Brazil.

Today, Xiaomi revealed its first device for the Latin American country — that’ll be the Redmi 2, the latest version of its budget Android device, which will retail for 499 BRL, or around $160. The phone will be available online at Xiaomi’s Mi.com store from July 7, although pre-registration for that sale — Xiaomi makes all would-be customers sign up in advance to have a shot at buying devices, which are available in limited quantities — is open from today in Brazil.

The company is again working with Foxconn to manufacture its devices on the ground in Brazil, thus avoiding the country’s high import taxes. Mobile phones and other gadgets typically retail for significantly more in Brazil than other places — the Wall Street Journal reports an iPhone is almost double the U.S. price — so it will be interesting to see if Xiaomi can maintain its low prices.

And, if so, what kind of hit it takes offering them at low cost. Xiaomi VP of international Hugo Barra, who is Brazilian himself, previously told TechCrunch that the company negotiates longer (and cheaper) contracts for components, but manufacturing is comparatively more expensive in Brazil given the demand in response to those import taxes.

Either way, Brazil will be an interesting market for Xiaomi. Not only since it is the most removed location from China, where the lion’s share of Xiaomi’s shares come from, that Xiaomi has expanded to thus far, but because — with a population of 200 million — it’s a market with serious potential for affordable, well marketed smartphones. That’s been Xiaomi’s speciality thus far.

As you might expect, Barra — a cult figure within tech circles in Brazil — heralded the Redmi 2 as a “game-changer in the Brazilian market.”

“This is only the start of our journey — as our business in Brazil grows, we will be bringing in a greater variety of exciting Mi products,” the former Android executive added.

Xiaomi sold over 60 million smartphones last year, and this year that figure is projected to reach 100 million. It currently sells phones in eight countries in Asia, including India and China. Expansions to Brazil, Russia, Turkey and elsewhere in Southeast Asia are all planned, and quick adoption in those markets could help Xiaomi surpass its target.

The company began selling accessories in Europe and the U.S. last month, but don’t hold your breath for its Mi or Redmi smartphones to land in those parts of the world any time soon. Potential legal battles and the dominance of pre-paid contracts — which come with free/discounted smartphones — make them distant priorities in Xiaomi’s global strategy.