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Xiaomi's Bin Lin Says Chinese Smartphone Maker May Enter the U.S.

The company will need to strengthen its patent portfolio before it gets here.


China’s fast-growing smartphone maker may enter the United States.

Xiaomi President Bin Lin said the company is “considering” selling its Mi Note and Mi Note Pro phones in the U.S., in remarks Wednesday at the Wall Street Journal’s WSJDLive conference at The Montage in Laguna Beach, Calif.

Speculation that Xiaomi would attempt to crack a mature market like the United States has been growing since this summer, when former Google executive Hugo Barra raised the possibility at the Code conference, though he offered no timeframe.

The company will need to strengthen its patent portfolio before it gets here.

When Xiaomi entered the India market last year, it was greeted by a suit from Ericsson AB, which alleged the smartphone maker hadn’t licensed inventions by Ericsson that enable wireless devices to connect to networks. The U.S. market is no less litigious, especially for a device that bears a strong resemblance to Apple’s iPhone.

Lin didn’t dwell on his U.S. ambitions. Instead, he used the conference stage to show video of the newly introduced self-balancing scooter and the company’s new 60-inch television, the Mi TV 3.

Xiaomi has been expanding beyond its smartphone roots to a growing array of consumer electronics products that its Mi phones control — TVs, an air purifier and home routers. Lin said the company doesn’t think of itself as a device maker, but rather an Internet company that sells services.

“We are really focusing on smartphones at the center of all the devices that we launch,” Lin said. “Consumers will enjoy all the services we provide through the phone.”

As if to underscore Xiaomi’s expanding product line, Lin broke into QVC huckster mode, pulling out an orange Mi gift bag onstage to show off the freebies he would offer conference attendees — including a Mi Power Bank that went on sale in the U.S. this summer.

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