EXCLUSIVE VIDEO: Ambitious Chinese device maker Xiaomi’s focus on user experience – from device ordering to delivery and support – means that international expansion “takes a lot of time”, Hugo Barra, the former Google executive with responsibility for its overseas growth, told Mobile World Live in a new video interview.
“We’re starting by exploring markets that are near – geographically near mainland China. So we’ve been in Taiwan and Hong Kong for a few months now, we’ve just launched in Singapore, we’re going to Malaysia next, and after that we’re looking at the rest of Southeast Asia and possibly India as well,” he said.
But when quizzed on markets such as Europe and the US, the executive acknowledged that while this is a possibility, “we don’t know when we’re going to get to it”.
The company sells direct to users, and “we do like to work on the end-to-end experience from when you buy a phone online from our website, all the way to receiving it, to talking to customer support,” Barra said. “So entering any market for us means actually creating a pretty significant operational footprint in that market, it’s not just a matter of doing a deal with a carrier.”
Xiaomi does work with operators in some markets, with the executive stating it is “highly dependent” on operators in Taiwan and Hong Kong, where these players are the dominant source of handset sales.
“But our approach is to give people choice. If you want to buy a phone full price and use your own SIM card, you can do that from our website. If you want to enjoy a subsidy, with a contract from a carrier, and get the phone at no upfront cost, then you have the option of going to the operators as well,” he said.
Xiaomi is also working with operators to support its recent launch in Singapore.
Watch the full video here.