At a showcase in San Francisco, Xiaomi announced it was going to start selling gadgets and gizmos Stateside – and certainly not phones nor TVs.
It will instead start with small items such as headphones, battery packs and fitness trackers, which will no doubt scare the heebie-jeebies out of the incumbent manufacturers as they see decent quality devices coming in at super low prices.
Xiaomi is much more like Samsung than it is like Apple because it makes a wide range of app-supported devices and has a significant content play around its software layer which runs on Android called MIUI. Xiaomi is keen to emphasise that it is not a fork of Android.
The US will be the first of a number of markets, to see the softly-softly Xiaomi approach. Its executives said that one of the elements behind this decision was the need to get FCC approval, but dismissed an onslaught of journalists' questions about patent infringement, claiming that it was not the over-riding concern.
The patent view is fuelled by a spat between Xiaomi and Ericsson in India.
It’s worth noting that the US market for SIM-free devices is much smaller than in other parts of the world. Without a carrier behind a mobe, launches can be very difficult.
While the introduction to the US might be low-key, the scale of the business in China is anything but, with flash sales that have seen 150,000 phones sold in 10 minutes and 11 “fulfilment centres”, which have delivered 940,000 products on their busiest days.
The arrival of Xiaomi in the US will no doubt be watched closely by its rivals. A major press event with presentations from the co-founder and the head of global is much more a statement of intent than the launch of some fitness wristbands. ®