Xiaomi is one of the most valuable startups in the world and has become a big icon in smartphone design, sometimes suggested as an analog to Apple in China.
The company’s flagship phones receive a ton of press in the U.S., too, but they aren’t available in the U.S. just yet. Instead, Xiaomi is looking to emerging markets like India in addition to getting its phones into the hands of consumers in China. Jenny Lee, a managing partner at GGV, said this is an intentional move for the company. Xiaomi, instead, should look to those emerging markets instead of even bothering with coming to the U.S.
“In my view, no,” she said when asked whether or not the company should go into the U.S. She talked a bit more about Xiaomi and the firm’s investment on stage at TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2017.
Part of the reason is that Xiaomi, often known for trying to build premium phones for a more accessible market, needs to look for markets that really need those kinds of products. The U.S. is heavily targeted by companies like Apple and Samsung, where consumers have the ability to limit the upfront cost of those premium products while still getting their hands on very high-end phones with big price tags. Meanwhile, a lot of the world is still a green field when it comes to getting big phone brands into the hands of consumers.
“When new markets emerge for mobile, Xiaomi is looking at emerging economies and mobile internet [markets that are getting] their first access,” Lee said. “When you think about the 7 billion world pop, China being 1.4 billion, we’re looking where is that emerging economy. If you look at the US market, it’s fully penetrated from a mobile phone perspective. If you are Xiaomi you are looking at where is that big market, you aren’t going to come to the US as the first international market. You’re gonna be looking at markets like Indonesia, like India.