As in US, Xiaomi's Mi store in Europe will launch sans phones

Chinese phone maker's Hugo Barra says accessories will soon be available in Europe. When it comes to its handsets though, Xiaomi is skipping the West and focusing on India.

Aloysius Low Senior Editor
Aloysius Low is a Senior Editor at CNET covering mobile and Asia. Based in Singapore, he loves playing Dota 2 when he can spare the time and is also the owner-minion of two adorable cats.
Aloysius Low
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Xiaomi's Hugo Barra, at a session at Mobile World Congress, says: "We increasingly see ourselves as a lifestyle brand." Aloysius Low/CNET

BARCELONA -- Hot on the heels of Xiaomi's event in San Francisco where the Chinese company announced plans for its online Mi store to debut in the US, Xiaomi said at a trade show here that the same would happen for European markets.

"It's going to be a different Mi.com experience from what we have in our markets in Asia, because we're not selling phones," Hugo Barra, Xiaomi's global vice president, said Tuesday at a session at Mobile World Congress. "We're only going to sell a small number of our hero accessories, things like the Mi Band , studio-grade headphones, in-ear headphones and the world's most popular power banks," he said.

Like its US counterpart, the European store will serve as the company's feedback loop for other products it's making.

"We increasingly see ourselves as a lifestyle brand," said Barra.

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Xiaomi is currently either the third- or six-largest smartphone manufacturer, depending on which report you read. That's still quite an impressive figure given that the company only started making handsets four years ago.

Besides high-end flagships such as the Mi Note and wallet-friendly handsets such as the recently announced Redmi 2 , the company makes products such as TV boxes, routers, and an air purifier meant for the Chinese market, where air pollution is quite often the norm in cities.

For now when it comes to its handsets though, Xiaomi is skipping the West, while focusing its efforts in India, which Barra said was the company's "largest overseas market."

"We would love to be in the US, but that's nowhere near the top of our priority for now," said Barra.

In India, the company has done remarkably well, and is currently exploring options such as brick-and-mortar sales in tandem with its popular online flash sales, where products consistently sell out in record time.

As for which countries in Europe will get the Mi store launch, Barra said the company "has no particular countries to announce quite yet."

March 4, 12.30 p.m. CET: Updated with comment from Xiaomi.