The introduction of smart home appliances in China is rapidly gaining momentum as appliance manufacturers rush to bring new and advanced products to market. As such, consumer demand for smart appliances is expected to grow considerably.
The trend will present significant opportunities for manufacturers who can deliver smart appliances that are competitively priced and offer features that address consumer concerns regarding privacy and security.
Lack of national standard for smart home appliances creates confusion
However, China lacks a national standard for smart home appliances resulting in various firms creating their own technologies and duplicating investments and manufacturing and, in turn, confusing consumers, according to analysts. Standards will help to ensure consumer protection while allowing for manufacturer creativity and further product innovation.
Technology firm executives say that China needs to draft a national smart home appliance standard on converging and connecting smartphones and devices like air conditioners and washing machines, which is set to create a 1 trillion-yuan (US$160 billion) Internet of Things market.
The IoT, already one of China’s strategic high-tech sectors, refers to wireless connections between several electronic devices including smartphones and home appliances.
China has a unique opportunity to develop IoT as its annual smartphone sales reached 400 million units, accounting for one third of the global level, said Lei Jun, chief executive of Xiaomi Corp. “It’s an opportunity for China to establish its own standard as most Internet standards are designed by US firms.”
The Xiaomi CEO's statement was made during the same week that JD.com announced its joint venture with Chinese voice technology company iFLYTEK, whereby the e-commerce company will invest nearly US$11 million to develop smart home technologies.
China’s IoT market worth a fortune
It has been predicted that China’s IoT market will be worth 1 trillion yuan in the future.
In December, Xiaomi announced a 1.26 billion-yuan (US$205 million) investment in Shenzhen-listed Midea to cooperate on smart home appliance products and services.
Midea Group, which makes air conditioners and other home appliance products, also urged China to draft a standard, said Yuan Liqun, vice president of the company. Midea has invested 3 billion yuan ( US$480 million) to establish a smart home appliance research center in Guangdong Province.
The Chinese IoT market revenue is expected to be 140 billion yuan (US$22.8 billion) in 2018, according to Juniper Research, a US-based IT research firm. The global smart home appliance market may generate IoT revenue of US$60 billion in 2017 with an annual growth rate of 19%.