Tech Industry

Xiaomi does CES for the first time... to announce products for China

Xiaomi's first-ever CES press event had many hopeful for news of a US launch, but the company remains focused on its home market.

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Xiaomi's first-ever press conference at the annual Consumer Electronics Show at Las Vegas could have been the company's entrance into the huge US market.

Instead, many were left disappointed as the Chinese tech company chose to debut two new exciting products exclusive to its home market of China.

It's a strategy that may not immediately make sense, but it apparently plays into the company's long-term plan for an anticipated launch in the US (that's likely not happening anytime this year).

Unlike its rivals, such as LeEco, which caused a big splash with its US entry, Xiaomi has been studiously keeping low-key and laying ground work.

"This strategy of coming in with big money, a massive event, lots of suits -- that's not us," said Hugo Barra, Xiaomi's global VP in an previous interview with CNET. "And I don't think this will work with any brand coming into the US.

Showing off a new, super-slim modular 4K TV, a router and a new white version of its Mi Mix concept phone, Xiaomi's CES debut was aimed at showing its home market that it has made the big stage in the US -- but still has China in mind.

"CES is a great chance for us to let people get to know us better," said Xiaomi's Wang Xiang, senior VP in a statement to CNET. "And keep in mind that CES is no longer purely a US-orientated show, it's a global exposition to the point where it makes sense for us to launch products for China and other countries right here."

But Xiaomi could have wowed its US audience if it had launched its new Mi TV 4 in the US. Featuring a 4.9mm thick body, the ability to upgrade the motherboard and display separately as well as an AI that learns and recommends content, the TV would have been a great entry product. And it would complement its Mi Box, currently sold in the US.

Even its Mi Router HD, a 4x4 MU-MIMO networking device with speeds of up to 2,600Mbps, sporting a $200 (roughly AU$270, £160) price tag for the 1Tb version, would make a lot of sense for the US.

"It was likely for bragging rights back home that a Chinese company has hit the big global stage at a key show like CES," said IDC research analyst Bryan Ma. "It was a similar line of thought with their press event at Mobile World Congress last year."

Ma also added that Xiaomi's CES launch likely had another purpose in mind: To cozy up to US media for when it finally launches there.

Xiaomi is already in 20 countries in the world, but the US, Australia and many European markets remain. Getting there, however, looks like it'll take some time.