Chinese smartphone company Xiaomi is dipping a first, tentative toe into the retail waters of US and Europe today, opening an online store selling electronic accessories. The company — worth $46 billion — will be selling just four products for what it's calling its "beta test sale," with the Mi Store going online at 10PM ET tonight in the US, and at 1PM CET tomorrow in the UK, France, and Germany. This opening line-up of products will include a $14.99 fitness tracker, a pair of $79.99 headphones, and two sizes of USB power packs: a $9.99 5,000mAh model that's good for about two full iPhone charges, and a beefier, 10,400mAh version that will sell for $13.99. The company is encouraging users to create accounts for the site early and says there will only be "very limited quantities" of each product available.
Xiaomi has not said when its smartphones might go on sale in the US
Xiaomi's global VP Hugo Barra announced this move into the US and Europe earlier this year, but wouldn't say when the smartphones that made the company rich might also go on sale. At the time, Barra cited reasons such as hardware certification, software testing, and other logistical challenges as barriers to entry for smartphones and tablets in US market. However, the company has yet to shake the perception that it has also copied American companies' designs — a criticism that is difficult to ignore when looking at side-by-side comparisons of Apple's and Xiaomi's products. Still, if the company can find an audience for its accessories, then its smartphone surely won't be too far behind.