Xiaomi and IKEA Partnership – Union of Giants

It has just been announced that from now on Xiaomi and IKEA will cooperate in the field of the Internet of Things and the Smart Home!

The cooperation between the two companies has already been established earlier in the past, but now it will be official. The co-work in history was regarding creating smart home devices and furniture of various kinds. Still, this partnership is the first time the Swedish company has partnered with a technology company inside China. However, this isn’t the first time Xiaomi has reached outside of China to expand their possession of multiple markets.

With the formal cooperation, IKEA’s Trådfri smart lighting devices will also become compatible with Xiaomi’s Mi Home app and the Xiao AI assistant. Operating via the Zigbee platform, Trådfri bulbs are already compatible with Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit and Google Assistant and also with Echo Plus and Philips Hue.

On the other hand, the Chinese company who is well known worldwide for its smartphones also has a wide range of other smart products connected on Xiaomi IoT Platform, such as domestic appliances and various sensors, AI speakers, and more, all better known in the Chinese market.

The cooperation will initially focus on the domestic market, as the Chinese customers actually love IKEA — eight of world’s ten biggest IKEA stores are located in China.

Now, let’s scratch underneath the surface of both manufacturers and check out the history behind this gigantic cooperation!

Xiaomi – Giant in Technology

Xiaomi was co-founded by Lei Jun and six partners on 6th April 2010. The same year the company officially launched its first Android-based firmware MIUI (abbreviation of MI User Interface, pronounced as “Me You I”), and also announced its expansion outside China, with the first international headquarters in Singapore. At first, Xiaomi did not own any physical stores, to reduce overhead costs, selling exclusively from its online store and relied on social networking services and word-of-mouth to make its products public and well-known. Today, its products are sold in brick stores around the world.

The company had steady growth throughout years with launching new smartphones year by year and has emerged as the world’s third-largest smartphone manufacturer just four years after it was founded. Xiaomi sold 5.7 million smartphones in 2012, 18.7 million in 2013 and 2014 it managed to take the electronics and mobile world by storm. The company’s flagship device, Mi4 was one of the best-selling phones in history and made the path for the mid-level mobile phones market.

Additionally, 2014 was very successful for the company in different fields and various markets. Xiaomi overtook Samsung to become top smartphone manufacturer in China in the 2nd quarter of 2014, it rose to No. 3 in the global smartphone market, Mi TV 2 was awarded for Red Star Design Award, and this is just a few of significant achievements in this year.

In the meantime, the Chinese manufacturer is considered to be very customer oriented, it listens carefully to customers’ feedback, having them test out upcoming features, and building a worldwide online community. Xiaomi’s product managers spend a lot of time looking through the company’s user forums. Once a suggestion is picked up, it is quickly transferred to the R&D engineers, who turn the idea from concept to the shipping product in the shortest period – usually a week. This process is called “design as you build” by the company management. (the previous sentence is instead of: Xiaomi calls this process “design as you build.”)

Also, the company has organised a dinner for the fans which is the main dinner event of Xiaomi, and it has become one of the most important for many China’s residents. It has the meaning of a fraternisation and meeting among all the participants. All the loyal fans of Mi are invited to the headquarters, and the dinner is held together with all the members of the company at the end of each year.

Today, Xiaomi is well-known worldwide for its smartphones and is compared to Apple Inc. This comparison is made regarding the appearance of smartphones and tablets, as well as the image of a company’s chairman and CEO, Lei Jun who cultivates a Steve Jobs image, including jeans and dark shirts. Xiaomi has also been famous for their hunger marketing tactics, which Apple also uses. When the Chinese manufacturer releases the new product, they make the shortest time record every time they sell out the new item. Their latest product is solely available for purchase on the official website, and only people who pre-registered could get a chance to make a purchase.

Nevertheless, opposite to this comparison, Xiaomi prefer to compare themselves to Amazon. And this is why: even though the manufacturer is worldwide famous for its smartphones, on the Chinese market there are numerous other products that the company manufactures and sells. Their portfolio includes the laser projector, smart TVs, notebook, charging accessories, audio devices, smart devices such as camera, LED desk lamp, motion-activated night light, air purifier, water purifier, drone, robot builder, children smart GPS watch and others.

All smart devices made by Xiaomi work via Zigbee platform, and this is the crucial point of their cooperation with IKEA.

IKEA – Giant in Furniture

On the other hand, IKEA is a world-wide famous furniture manufacturer that started small, and expanded gradually, first in Sweden, and later in surrounding countries. The company was established in 1943. by a 17-year-old carpenter, Ingvar Kamprad, as a mostly mail-order sales business.

Today, the Swedish manufacturer is known for its modernist designs for various types of appliances and furniture. From November 2017, the company owns and operates 415 stores in 49 countries, and has plans for opening several megastores around the world! And that is not all! IKEA is much more: dedicated to sustainability, green manufacture, renewable energy sources, recycling and ecology.

In 2016 the Swedish furniture giant started a move into the smart home business. The Trådfri smart lighting kit was the first smart device manufactured by IKEA. The company’s media team has confirmed that the smart home project will be a big move as they have started a partnership with Philips Hue and SONOS. The wireless charging furniture, integrating wireless charging into everyday furniture, is another strategy for the smart home business.

IKEA smart lighting products use the ZigBee Light Link standard to communicate with the rest of the smart home. This means it’ll be well synchronised with a wide range of devices, and that includes Xiaomi devices. The Trådfri smart lighting products will integrate with the Mi Home app and Xiao AI assistant starting in December 2018.

A Touch from Heaven – Zigbee

As already mentioned, both Xiao AI assistant and IKEA smart lighting system work on the Zigbee platform. Don’t forget the Amazon Echo, which is in the Zigbee team as well! Benefits of this wireless home automation protocol are that it is very reliable, easy to set up, has lower power consumption, and has a wide range of devices working connected to it.

It is already predicted by ON World, a leading business intelligence firm for the IoT industry, that Zigbee will dominate the wireless communication technology market in the upcoming years. And this cooperation between two giants, including Alexa in between is an excellent opportunity for this wireless home automation protocol to strengthen its position on the market of smart devices in the future.

Wrap up

This month in China, IKEA’s all smart lighting products will be connected to Xiaomi’s IoT platform, and it will be possible to control it via the Chinese manufacturer’s products.  Both the Chinese and Swedish company have a similar mission to create a better life for people, and the global partnership will help accelerate and improve the development of the smart home industry. The partnership between the manufacturers will definitely be a win/win situation for the companies themselves as well as for the consumers, who will have more options to choose from.

If you wish to read more about the IKEA’s smart home solution and future plans and ideas of the company, check out our article Smart Home IKEA.

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