Despite the recent failure of Huawei Technologies’ foray into the United States, another Chinese smartphone manufacturer, Xiaomi, is building its “resources” to enter the highly lucrative market.
In an interview with CNBC aired on Monday, Wang Xiang, head of Xiaomi’s international business, said the company is always looking closely at the market.
The Chinese smartphone maker has signed a memorandum of understanding with Microsoft to work together in the fields of cloud computing, artificial intelligence (AI), and hardware.
The move surprised many industry watchers who consider it rare for a major US company to partner with a Chinese group on AI.
“We always look seriously at the US market. The US market is very important to us but we are very, very carefully building our resources to serve the US consumer,” Wang told the business news television channel.
In a market where consumers mainly pay for contracts with telecommunication carriers in order to buy phones, Xiaomi has to customize its products, he said.
Currently, the company doesn’t sell smartphones in the US but offers a portable charger product.
Chinese electronics manufacturers face tough challenges in the US. Last month AT&T backed out of a deal to sell Huawei’s flagship handset, Mate 10 Pro, in the country because of security concerns.
Wang insisted that he was not worried about the anti-China sentiment in the US. “We are an internet company, we are very open, very friendly to consumers, to the people in different countries,” he said. “I always tell [Xiaomi fans in the US] we’ll be there. Also, we are very confident… they will love us.”
Wang said the company hit its 2017 sales target of 100 billion yuan (US$15.8 billion) before the end of the year, without disclosing the exact revenue figure for the period.
“We can do much more than a 100 billion renminbi in 2018,” he added.
As one of the leading smartphone makers in China, Xiaomi has been pushing overseas in recent years. It opened a third physical store in Spain last week, while accelerating the pace of store launches in other key markets such as India.
During the interview, Wang said the company is “doing a lot of research on AI on chips”, but has not made a decision on whether to make its own chips that enable AI on mobile devices.
Smartphone giants including Apple, Samsung, and Huawei have been focusing on creating their own chips for better AI applications, with the aim of enhancing control over the supply chain, instead of relying on dominant chipmakers like Qualcomm.
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