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Chinese smart phone maker Xiaomi isn’t ready just yet to sell its phones in the U.S., but the company wants to start selling some of its other products to Americans soon. Xiaomi’s Hugo Barra, vice president of international for the copmany, announced at a press event in San Francisco Thursday that it plans to launch its e-commerce website in the U.S. and other international markets soon to start selling accessories like its fitness band, power banks and other accessories.
“We intend to launch here in the us in a few months,” Barra said. “It will not include any phones or tablets,” he said, adding that localization of its MIUI Android platform is “incredibly difficult.” Xiaomi introduced a set of headsets and a TV streaming box at a press event in China last month. However, Barra told me that the TV devices likely won’t be available in the U.S. because of content rights and other regionalization issues.
Xiaomi is currently selling its phones in eight Asian territories, and is about to start selling phones in Brazil soon. Company executives said Thursday that they sold 61.1 million phones in 2014, which represented a 227 percent growth over 2013. It generated revenue of 74.3 billion RMB (close to $12 billion), which represented a 135 percent growth over 2013. Xiaomi’s MIUI flavor of Android is being used by over 100 million people worldwide.
Xiaomi president Lin Bin said Thursday that a lot of the company’s success in its Asian markets has to do with its direct interaction with its users, which include an active online forum as well as direct face-to-face interaction. In 2014, Xiaomi had 665 fan gatherings in China alone, he said.
Barra added that this kind of interaction also extends to the development of MIUI itself. Xiaomi has been shipping new updates to its MIUI Android system every week for 224 weeks straight, and Barra said that many of the system’s new features have been suggested by fans. Some of the unique features highlighted by Barra include an easier way to edit the phone’s home screen, a white list for Android app notifications and a beautification feature that automatically makes your selfie look better.
But the coolest feature may actually be one that deals with one of the most annoying parts of calling big companies. Xiaomi has mapped out the phone trees of the automatic voice systems of many Chinese companies, and presents the options to do common tasks right within the dialer. Want to speak with a representative? Then just press a button — and your Xiaomi phone will automatically dial the right sequence of numbers to get you there.
This post was updated throughout with additional information at 1:06pm.