Hugo Barra: Xiaomi still coming to the US, but not in a rush

In the Android smartphone market, few names outside of brands like Samsung, LG, and other international giants make it to headlines. China's Xiaomi, of course, remains the exception, sparking interest and even demand in countries outside of its focus markets like China and India. Interest in Xiaomi's smartphones in the US, however, might be waning as the company continues to drag its feet in a Western expansion. Company VP of International Hugo Barra, formerly a Google exec, reassures fans that Xiaomi still has the US in its sights. That said, it is in no rush to get there and wants to time things right or risk actually doing more harm than good to Xiaomi's image.

That, of course, isn't really news, as the company and Barra himself have already confirmed such plans in the past. The question, however, has never changed: when? Unfortunately, the answer hasn't changed either: soon.

Xiaomi's overly cautious and snail-paced US plans might not make sense to fans hungry for the affordable flagships that the manufacturer is famous for. It might even seem too risky, given the almost stagnating status of the smartphone market globally. But that is precisely why Xiaomi is still focusing its resources on markets in China, India, and Southeast Asia, where there is a bigger opportunity for growth and profit.

In the US, Xiaomi will be competing head on against Samsung and Apple on their biggest turfs, unlike in China where Xiaomi still has a stronger base. The smartphone landscape is also very different, where carrier subsidies and purchases still hold sway. Xiaomi's compatriots Huawei, ZTE, and OPPO have long been trying to convince consumers to switch to unlocked devices, with little progress.

The legal barriers to entry are also higher, with patent systems, and therefore patents themselves, differing between the US and China. Xiaomi, however, has already armed itself with a patent deal with Microsoft.

Still, Xiaomi can't afford to delay too long either. Its fellow Chinese manufacturers are starting to make bigger strides in the US market and Xiaomi might soon find itself left with nothing but scraps.

SOURCE: Bloomberg