Xiaomi Furthers Its Smart Home Ambition With $200M Investment In Appliance Maker Midea

Xiaomi launched an air purifier last week, and now the Chinese company is putting hard cash behind its smart home push after investing over $200 million in home appliance firm Midea.

Xiaomi Inc., one of the Chinese firm’s group of technology companies, bought a 1.29 percent share of Midea Group — Midea’s Shenzhen-listed parent company — for RMB1.266 billion, that’s around $205 million.

Guangdong-based Midea produces a range of home appliances, including air conditioners, refrigerators, kitchen appliances and more. It was established in 1968, but is moving with the times after unveiling its own smart home vision in March. The project is funded by nearly $2.5 billion in capital — that’s a small chunk of the $18.7 billion turnover it recorded in 2013.

“The deal between Xiaomi Technology and Midea will see strategic cooperation between the two companies in smart home initiatives and electronic products,” a statement from Xiaomi read.

Best known for its affordable smartphones, Xiaomi has diversified its product line with a range of new launches over the year or two. Beyond the $150 Mi Air Purifier, it offers $20 routers, a blood pressure measurement kit, a smart TVa tablet device, battery packs, and a fitness band among other gizmos.

Hardware and the smart home have been particular focuses for Xiaomi, and its announcement of the Midea investment was accompanied by a reiteration of its ongoing ambition “to groom 100 startups so they become more than just manufacturing companies.”

Xiaomi says 25 companies have joined its “ecosystem” so far, and they include U.S. hardware startup Misfit and iHealth Labs, which manufactured Xiaomi’s blood pressure measurement product.

In the case of iHealth Labs, Xiaomi didn’t seem to do much to the company’s original product beyond wrapping it in its brand and adding support for its smartphones — it will be interesting to see what fruits are borne of its union with Midea.