Xiaomi Marching into the U.S. in 2019, Despite Ongoing Trade War

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Xiaomi is developing its cellphone models compatible with U.S. carrier network, planning to launch in the U.S. market next year, Reuters reported on its Chinese website.

Despite trade disputes between China and the U.S. increase risks for investment in the U.S., WangXiang, senior Vice President of Xiaomi shrugged off such concerns, though observers said Xiaomi’s U.S. push could face some uncertainties.

“We don’t see any reason for us to get into that political problem,” said Wang, adding that the company’s US links – American conglomerates like Qualcomm and Google will work in its favor. Prior to joining Xiaomi, Wang led the China operations for the San Diego-based chipmaker Qualcomm.

On Monday, Trump administration urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to deny China Mobile’s entry to the US, expressing concerns that the world’s third biggest carrier could be used for “cyber intrusions and attacks” and hence jeopardize the nation’s security.

This is a particular tricky junction given US’s intense political scrutiny over other Chinese smartphone companies including Huawei and ZTE over the past months.

Last month, U.S. lawmakers urged Google to reconsider its partnership with Huawei, warning against the telecom giant’s close ties with Chinese government that might pose threat to national security.

In April, FCC announced a ban on U.S. telecom companies buying communications equipment from foreign incumbents that present a security risk, with China’s telecom equipment maker Huawei and ZTE being primary sanction targets in the crackdown.

WorldWide Smartphone Sales to End Users by Vendor in 1Q18.
WorldWide Smartphone Sales to End Users by Vendor in 1Q18. Image Source: Gartner.

By far Xiaomi has been pulling off well for global smartphone sales. Its market share jumped by a whopping 118 percent to 7.4% for the first quarter this year, up from 3.4% in the same period last year, according to research and advisory firm Gartner.

US smartphone market share.
US smartphone market share. Image Source: Verto Watch.

Next to Samsung, Apple, and Huawei, Xiaomi has become the fourth largest vendor by unit sales to end users.

Another challenge Xiaomi will be tested might be the distribution channel. While the company has more than once hit record sales via its online stores and partnering retailers beyond China, selling via telecom carrier – namely AT&T, Sprint, T-mobile and Verizon- remains the predominant device distribution channel in the nation.

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