As a tech writer it’s pretty frustrating to have to talk about Xiaomi smartphones, as I’m basically talking about this ultra-power, super sexy, ridiculously cheap smartphone that… I can’t actually buy. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy with my OnePlus One, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t get my hands on a Xiaomi Mi Note Pro if I could. The good news is that Xiaomi’s Hugo Barra claims that bringing smartphones to the United States is definitely in their plans, we just don’t know when that’s ever going to happen.
Xiaomi’s Hugo Barra says that the Chinese phone giant has long-term hopes of selling phones in the United States, but no specific plan or timeframe. “We are working on it,” Barra said at the Code Conference on Thursday, but he added, “We don’t have a set plan. … We haven’t picked a date yet.” Barra talked about the need to make sure the company has the right customer service in place before coming here. Not mentioned — but also a big issue if Xiaomi is to come to the U.S. — are intellectual property issues. Many see Xiaomi as having focused on countries that are not only high-growth markets, but also ones with fairly weak patent enforcement. Xiaomi recently opened up a Web store to sell accessories like headphones and a fitness band, but not phones. Barra said that Xiaomi is selling a million of its Mi Band fitness bands a month, which Barra said he believes is more than Fitbit is selling. “We’ll start there,” Barra said. Barra, who previously was a top leader inside Google’s Android unit, joined Xiaomi in 2013 and is in charge of its international expansion. So far the company has started selling in countries such as Singapore and India.