Xiaomi Invests In ‘Smart Homes’ Initiative

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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Chinese smartphone giant expands its Internet-of-Things investment programme in a deal with home appliances maker Midea

Beijing-based smartphone giant Xiaomi has launched a “connected home” initiative with home appliances maker Midea Group, accompanied by Xiaomi’s purchase of a 1.29 percent stake in the company for 1.27 billion yuan (£129m).

Xiaomi, which direct-sells budget smartphones over the Internet using aggressive marketing tactics, has quickly surpassed Apple, Samsung, Lenovo and ZTE to become the top handset maker in China, and the third-largest in the world.

600px-Xiaomi_logo.svgConnected devices

The company has said it wants to expand into other connected devices by investing in 100 firms whose products can be sold using Xiaomi’s Internet-sales infrastructure.

As part of this push, Xiaomi launched an activity-monitor wristband in July and, earlier this month, a smartphone-operated air purifier. The company has invested in about 25 connected-devices companies so far.

Midea, based in Guangdong Province, just north of Hong Kong, is a quickly-growing maker of home appliances including air conditioners, refrigerators and kitchen appliances, and said earlier this year it wanted to move into Internet-connected devices. Midea’s sales grew 17 percent to $12.5bn (£7.9bn) in the first six months of 2014, compared with the same period the previous year, with net profits growing 58 percent to $1.1bn.

‘Internet of Things’

China has the world’s largest number of mobile phone users, and is a growing market for connected devices. Also known as the “Internet of Things”, this market is itself attracting significant investment, including Google’s purchase of Nest Labs earlier this year for $3.2bn.

Xiaomi is also investing in online content, including the purchase of a stake in video site iQiyi, a subsidiary of Chinese search leader Baidu, last month. Among its other recent investments are a stake in 21Vianet, a Chinese data centre operator listed in the US, announced earlier this month.

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