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AMERICAN DREAMS

At long last, Xiaomi opens up for business in the US and Europe (but it isn’t selling smartphones)

By Alice Truong

Xiaomi, the world’s third largest smartphone vendor behind Samsung and Apple, has finally opened up shop in the US and Europe.

While the Chinese company is best known for its cheap, basic phones, they won’t be making their way to either region due to patent issues. Instead, the online stores for the US and Europe (which opened on May 18 and 19, respectively) will focus on selling accessories. Currently the US store carries four products, all of which are already sold out, and as with its smartphones, Xiaomi is severely undercutting the US competition:

  • Mi Band, an activity and sleep tracker that retails for $15. Compare that to Fitbit’s tracking wristbands, which begin at $100.
  • Mi Headphones are $80 headphones that come with over-the-ear and on-ear cushions. Without trying them on, it’s hard to say what their closest competitor is, but over-the-ear headphones regularly start at $100 with high-end versions going for several (or many) times that.
  • 10400mAh Mi Power Bank ($14), a portable battery pack, has enough charge to power the iPhone 5S four and a half times. Mophie, one of the better-known brands in this space, sells its powerstation XL, which has a capacity of 12000mAh, for $130.
  • 5000mAh ($19) Mi Power Bank can charge the iPhone 5S more than two times over. Mophie’s lower-capacity powerstation plus, which holds 3000mAh of power, retails for $80.

Xiaomi, which has become China’s largest smartphone vendor in its short five-year history, sees accessories as the next growth frontier. Aside from its expansion to the US and Europe, the company recently debuted a slew of new products in China, including a $16 scale that tracks weight and body mass index, an $800 55-inch 4K television set, and an $8 power strip designed for mobile devices.