Xiaomi to enter bullish Brazilian market

Updated: 2015-03-10 00:00

By Li Jing in Beijing(China Daily Latin America)

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Xiaomi to enter bullish Brazilian market

Lei Jun, Xiaomi's co-founder and CEO, presents Xiaomi's latest flagship smartphone Mi Note. Photos provided to China Daily

Top Chinese smartphone-maker Xiaomi announced it will enter Brazil this year, as part of its expansion in the global smartphone market.

"We are looking into the market and plans to make a move this year," Xiaomi said in an interview with China Daily. "Details are still under discussion, such as lines of products to sell."

According to Tech in Asia, Xiaomi is close to securing a manufacturing plant in Brazil.

Currently, China's biggest smartphone maker offers smartphones and smart modules that link smart products directly to phones in seven countries and areas.

After a $1.1 billion funding round last December which valued the five-year-old company at $45 billion, it has turned its focus overseas.

In January, Xiaomi announced its intentions to enter Brazil, Russia, and other emerging markets and that it was looking to invest in new tech startups in India to expand its global presence and develop new capabilities.

In February, the company said it would open an online store in the US shortly to sell its line of smart-tech wearables and headphones. On March 4, it did the same in Europe.

The company is most well-known for its low-cost, flagship line of smartphones popular in China, but patent restrictions currently are keeping the company from launching its phones in the US and European markets.

"Developing countries remain our market focus in 2015," said Xiaomi. Brazil, one of the largest consumer markets in Latin America, is likely to be one of its most important new markets.

Xiaomi's Brazilian Dream was first made in 2012, as Lei Jun, Xiaomi's co-founder and CEO announced the intentions to enter Brazil. After waiting two years, last May the company registered in Brazil under the name Xiaomi Technology Brazil Ltd and opened its first office in Sao Paulo to begin operations last August.

Despite the start of the operations, there has been a delay in releasing a start date for Xiaomi's products in Brazil.

Xiaomi's vice president Hugo Barra said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that the delay is due to a "long and painful device-certification process".

Smartphone makers need to get their products certified by government agencies across the world before they can launch and sell in different markets. In Brazil, the process can take as long as six months to meet local standards and get products certified for sale.

Barra said Xiaomi's plans to offer its smartphones in Brazil could take longer, citing local laws that require companies like Xiaomi to assemble their products in the South American country. "It may take a long time," Barra said.

However, Xiaomi's high-end and lower priced smartphones could be a hit in the currently bullish local market. In 2013, smartphone sales in Brazil rose by 101 percent, according to analysts. The country's tele-density is still low and so is smartphone ownership, which provides a large potential market for Xiaomi.

The man to helm Xiaomi's global operations was born in Brazil. Barra left Google to join Xiaomi in 2013 and in 2014 Xiaomi made its products available in Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines. Last July, it launched its latest smartphone in India which sold out quickly.

Barra has been quoted as saying that Xiaomi will use the same competitive pricing strategy that it uses in China when it launches its products in foreign markets such as Brazil. The company, sometimes referred to as the "Apple of China", has already overtaken Apple as the top smartphone seller.

The company's latest flagship product, Mi Note, is priced at 2,299 yuan ($368) for the basic version, about half the price of Apple's iPhone.