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Xiaomi launches online store in US

By Lia Zhu in San Francisco | China Daily USA | Updated: 2015-08-26 11:22

Xiaomi Inc, China's largest cut-price smartphone maker, is seeking a foothold in the United States by launching its first online store and investing in a wearables start-up as part of its strategy to become a global brand.

Xiaomi launched an online accessories store in the US and Europe in June 2015 with products ranging from Mi Band wearable and headphones to Power Bank battery cells and smart-home items.

Although the company has become the world's third-largest smartphone manufacturer behind Apple and Samsung, its handsets will not be available in the US market anytime soon.

Launching a smartphone in the US required a huge amount of effort and the company will need to set up after-sales support centers across the country and marketing efforts, Hugo Barra, Xiaomi's global vice-president, told media following the launch.

Xiaomi will also need to ensure its patents are in order, he said. As a young company, its portfolio of patents is small compared with other companies.

Despite the online stores' limited products for Westerners, Barra expressed confidence that the sites would be well received: "It's a bit of a tease and that's the intention. We want consumers in the US and some of these European countries to experience our brand, see our products and play with them."

Since the release of its first smartphone in August 2011, Xiaomi has expanded into a wider range of consumer electronics, including a smart-home device ecosystem that is part of its portfolio for the fast-growing smart-home market.

In March 2015, Xiaomi partnered with Silicon Valley-based Marvell Technology Group Ltd, a major global semiconductor company, to launch a smart module built on the Marvell IoT chipset and integrated in Xiaomi's smart air purifier and smart-hub devices.

The module integrates Wi-Fi connection and complete communication protocol with Xiaomi Cloud, which enables third-party manufacturers to upgrade to smart devices from traditional devices. This module supports multiple functions, including a power-on device detect, firmware upgrades, network reliability and consistent maintenance of the connection status indication.

"Marvell's innovative end-to-end, field-proven IoT platforms have helped us accelerate our product development. Given the growing demand for simplified smart home automation, we're confident Marvell provides hardware solutions to further the development of our smart home portfolio, making for a smarter, more connected consumer experience," said KK Wong, vice-president and co-founder of Xiaomi.

Beyond smartphones and home appliances, Xiaomi has been seeking to build a hardware ecosystem that extends to wearable technology.

Despite that it had already marketed its own wearable devices, including the $13 "Mi Band".

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