Internationally, Xiaomi is mostly recognized for their cell phones. But in China, they’re also known for their Mi Smart Home line of electronic devices — air filters that connect to wifi, voice-controlled AI assistants, and home lighting operated via smartphone apps. Now, Xiaomi has partnered with IKEA in a push to make that line a household name.
At first glance, it might seem like Xiaomi’s decision to partner with the Swedish furniture giant points to a desire to spread its smart home products overseas. But it seems that the collaboration will initially focus on the Chinese market, possibly with the first results in stores as early as next month. Despite recent bad vibes with Sweden (it feels like just yesterday that rapper Pissy threatened, “We can choose to refuse the Swedish brands,” mentioning IKEA by name in an ill-conceived diss track against the country), China actually loves IKEA — of the world’s ten biggest IKEA stores, eight of them are in China.
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IKEA, like many international brands, is targeting China’s growing middle class. And for many reasons, the industry of home furnishings is seeing more return on that investment than most others. Today the average Chinese consumer enjoys about four times more living space than they did forty years ago. 90% of homes now have refrigerators and washing machines, and the meteoric rise of food delivery has made the in-home dining experience even more important.
For Xiaomi too, the partnership makes sense. In what used to be a neck-and-neck race for “best Chinese phone”, competitor Huawei has pulled into a comfortable lead. Xiaomi’s phones remain popular, but it’s easy to tell they see the Mi Smart Home line as an important future pillar of their company. If the partnership succeeds at home in China, maybe we’ll see IKEA become an important foothold for Xiaomi’s presence overseas.
Cover Photo: Shutterstock
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