China’s Xiaomi, the world’s third largest seller of smartphones with a valuation of over $45 billion, continued its push into the home with two new products unveiled today. The company outed a new version of its smart TV, alongside a water purifier, a new entry in its ever-increasing collection of connected home devices.
The Mi TV 2S is a 48-inch TV set that is just 9.9mm thin. There’s a Samsung UHD display with support for 4k, a quad-core 1.4GHz processor powering the set and the usual array of HDMI, USB, Bluetooth, etc.
Xiaomi has made a few significant changes with this refreshed model. Most notable is the addition of a subwoofer and a Dolby-powered soundbar. Design-wise, alongside the super thin format factor, customers can take their pick of five colored aluminum frames.
The Mi TV 2S is priced at RMB2999 (US$483), and there’s a ‘Theatre Edition,’ which includes a sound system and comes in at RMB3999 (US$644). Beyond usual access to online services there’s also Xiaomi’s own content library, which the company is spending $1 billion to develop.
“We want Mi TV 2S to be the first TV that young adults buy. Xiaomi’s TV team spent one year developing Mi TV 2S, working with global industry-leading suppliers, the best materials, and top-of-the-line technology to produce a gorgeous TV with amazing performance,” said Xiaomi CEO and co-founder Lei Jun in a canned statement.
Xiaomi’s continued commitment to smart TVs makes sense, but plenty of people were a little less sure why the Chinese firm would develop a water purifier.
The Mi Water Purifier costs RMB1299 (US$209) and will initially be available in China only. It sits on kitchen surfaces and turns tap water into drinking water. The device is branded as being smart because it is part of Xiaomi’s Mi Home network, meaning that customers can check on its settings and recent activity, as well as get alerts when replacement filters are required.
Xiaomi, which also offers a blood pressure test unit, smart light bulbs, air purifier, $20 routers and other connected home devices, is building out its network to cover the home as well as mobile in China. For existing Xiaomi customers, the appeal is that these home appliances are appealing for the brand and work with their smartphone and other devices, increasing the company’s hold over them — and potential sales — as they invest in its product ecosystem.
Pushing its smart home products — Xiaomi has plans to offer more than 100 of them, via third-party partners — the company also hopes to appeal to new demographics who will appreciate its well-priced products and buy others, thus becoming a loyal customer. There’s also an opportunity to monetize a network like this, via data and other services, further down the line.
It’s too early to know how this strategy is working in China and — as I noted last year — it makes pinning down exactly what kind of company that Xiaomi is pretty challenging.