Xiaomi will tiptoe into the US by selling accessories, not phones

The world's most valuable startup (for now) is finally getting ready to sell stuff in the United States, just... maybe not the stuff you were expecting. At an intimate media gathering in San Francisco, Xiaomi global VP Hugo Barra revealed that the buzzy Chinese phone maker will start selling its low-cost fitness band (see above) and accessories like power banks and headphones to US customers through its commerce site later this year. Here's the rub, though: Barra was quick to add that that neither the company's phones nor its tablets are making the leap into US waters just yet.

That's obviously not to say they never will, but Xiaomi's being judicious about how it approaches the tricky US market -- we've seen huge established brands falter here, and it wouldn't do Xiaomi any good to rush in all willy-nilly. The thing you've got to remember about Xiaomi is that it's just about cornered the market on cheap, quality gadgets in China; trying to build a presence around here with those sorts of essential accessories makes sense as a lead-off move for any other big hardware pushes down the road. Speaking of, there are plenty of headaches to surmount if Xiaomi wants to bring phones and tablets to America, ranging from the process of certifying devices for US use and the modifications needed to localize its MIUI software experience. Cynics could easily point to the company's very familiar designs and the potential for a legal brouhaha as yet another reason why the Xiaomi won't (or possibly can't) bring some of its devices stateside, but the point still stands: For now Xiaomi's doing just peachy without us snapping up their phones.