China learning to innovate very fast: Xiaomi's Barra

Hugo Barra at 2015 Code Conference on May 28, 2015.
Asa Mathat | Re/Code
Hugo Barra at 2015 Code Conference on May 28, 2015.

The technology ecosystem in China is learning to innovate at a speed perhaps not understood in Silicon Valley, said Hugo Barra, vice president of international at Xiaomi.

That innovation arc is increasingly apparent not just in hardware, but software, he said.

Barra's comments came at the Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes in California.

The company is already a powerhouse in China, where it sells phones, TVs, wireless routers and other products directly to consumers via their website, Mi.com. The 5-year old company is already the fifth-largest smartphone maker in the world. It also sells one million of its Mi Band fitness bands a month, Barra said, making it possibly the most popular fitness band on Earth.

Xiaomi will launch a sales site in the U.S., on June 1, but phones will not be a part of that sales plan, yet.

The intensely competitive nature, and high expectations of customer service, of the U.S. smartphone market forces Xiaomi to take its time before jumping in, Barra said.

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For now, Xiaomi will sell products to U.S. consumers that "don't require any kind of localization," like selfie sticks and fitness trackers. They plan to sell phones in the U.S. eventually.

"We've actually designed an amazing, beautiful powerstrip," he said.