Chinese consumer tech giant Xiaomi could be ready to sell its cheap-but-good smartphones in the United States by the end of this year or early 2019. The company previously was hinting at a late 2017 arrival; chairman Lei Jun recently revealed the new timeline to the Wall Street Journal.
Xiaomi has flirted with the U.S. market for years, selling low-priced gadgets such as headphones and streaming boxes, and letting reviewers (like me) try its latest phones. Yet the company has never actually sold its smartphones here, possibly due to intellectual property issues.
As Wired reported last year, Xiaomi has been building up its IP portfolio with about 5,700 patents since 2014. The company has also refined its strategy of tying Xiaomi smartphones into a broader connected device platform, funding dozens of small companies that build products on its behalf. With a major new smartphone launching later this month, and a possible $100 billion IPO looming, this could be the year that Xiaomi transforms into a global consumer tech powerhouse.