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Chinese firms tap into smart sports market


03-21-2015 08:50 BJT

With technology playing an ever greater role in people's daily lives, consumers are increasingly seeking out gadgets that can enhance the activities they love doing most, especially in sports.  Leading Chinese tech company Xiaomi is aiming to tap into this market, releasing a line of smart running shoes, in association with Chinese sportswear giant Li Ning, by the end of this year.

Huami is a subsidiary of mobile phone maker Xiaomi and the producer of Xiaomi's smart band. Joining with sports brand Li Ning will move them into the smart sports market. The smart sneakers are expected to launch this year, and will be connectable with the Xiaomi band to collect data and make suggestions about your workouts. Xiaomi says it has plans to develop more wearable devices in the future.

Chinese firms tap into smart sports market

Chinese firms tap into smart sports market

"Xiaomi has plans in the industry, and will also be doing our own research. But different from the development of Xiaomi mobile phones, we will not develop wearable devices by ourselves. Instead, we will invest or purchase shares in start-ups or traditional household appliance companies. We will do it in an open and cooperative fashion," said Liu De, vice president of Xiaomi.

The wearable devices industry has been exploding. According to a survey by technology specialists IHS, global sales of wearable devices are expected to grow from 9 billion US Dollars in 2012 to 33 billion US Dollars in 2018. This year the production of wearable devices is expected to reach 140 million units, a 62 percent year on year increase. Customers have shown they are selective about the new technology, however. This January Google shut down its smart glasses project, which was once thought to be the pioneer of wearable devices. According to a US survey, one third of users stop wearing smart devices 6 months after buying them. In addition to marketing issues, Liu says there are other challenges for wearable devices producers.

"First, meeting customers' needs. Is your product really useful You need to precisely define the function of your products. Make a useful one. This is the first difficulty. Users wear some devices for several days only, and give up, deciding they are useless. Second, strictly control your costs, make your products affordable for customers. Third, do you have the technological advantages to continually update your products, to give customers a new experience. All three have their challenges," Liu said.

In order to better prepare for challenges, the China Wearable Industy Alliance was founded this week in Shanghai. Secretary General Wu Kai says the alliance wants to coordinate resources in the industry.

"In the area of ideas and technologies, Chinese companies are virtually as good as their foreign counterparts. How can we develop our advantages The key is having a good industrial environment. Every company has its own specialty. That is why we found this alliance - to establish a good industrial environment," said Wu Kai, secretary general of China Wearable Industry Alliance.

According to the consulting firm Analysys, last year the market in wearable devices in China was 2 billion yuan, and is expected to exceed 13 billion yuan this year. 

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