Xiaomi Invests in Misfit Wearables, Admitting Technology Failure?

1

December 3, 2014 by ...

Xiaomi has invested in US-based Misfits, a wearable tech company. This is interesting insofar as Xiaomi makes a similar product to Misfit’s ‘Shine’. Was this move part of Xiaomi’s march to the top or an indicator of their inability to create?

Read on, if you dare…

Xiaomi hard to pronounce and ‘oh, so fbugly’

Lei Jun is apparently not looking to bolster aesthetic appeal for his MiBand, as the Shine looks more like a wearable contraceptive than fitness tracker.

misfit shine

Then again, this is not inconsistent with the ‘Guess what solar system that alien hails from’ motif  that the MiBand engenders.

mork from ork

In a word, neither leaves its owner feeling like the ‘cock of the walk’ as it were. But then again, perching itself atop the perch of manufacturing beauty has never been the strong suit of the China-based Xiaomi. If not for heisted designs from the likes of Apple, this is what we could expect from the firm….

wtf wtf2

yes, those are both Xiaomi plays. This seems to indicate that communist-themed bunnies and military gear are either

1- messages that Xiaomi considers consistent with their corporate image

or

2- the only things they belief they can faithfully create and sell to the Chinese market.

 

What is the point of all this?

The point of this post is that Xiaomi is investing in an American wearables team and seeks to bolster its own capabilities. Eyeballing both sets of kit one can see that function definitely wins out over form. This being the case, why would Xiaomi buy into Misfit?

 

Xiaomi’s device is a bottom dweller

The truth is that Xiaomi has little to no confidence in their ability to sell on price. Why else would they peddle their gear at 15% of the cost of the competition? The MiBand is surprisingly good looking for such an inexpensive device, even if they seriously lacked attention to detail.

 

Wait, is Xiaomi buying into a product they already knocked off?

Holy shit! Wait a second, take a look at this wouldya’

xiaomi xiaomi 2

This is the Xiaomi clasp which has that unmistakealbe ‘Oh shit, I just know that thing is going to break’ feel to it. As commented on here, the ‘follicle width’ of the end does little to encourage optimism of its build integrity and or longevity. The same can be said about the aptly named Misfit, however.

holy shit

Closer scrutiny shows that the Xiaomi band seems to borrow heavily from its new half bro- the Shine. (pic from here)

How funny is it that Xiaomi is now buying into a company whose original product was aped by none other than themselves? Oh, but perhaps your humble author has strayed too far afield and must corral his politically incorrect tongue and continue with a civil discourse.

Why would Xiaomi buy into a company it already knocked off?

Far be it for me to intimate that Xiaomi has heisted the designs of any firm. In fact, one could yank a page out of Hugo Barra’s screed and say that design is design is design and nobody really owns any of them. One firm’s IP is another’s plaything. Ok, Barra did not literally say that, but he did not have to. The proof is in the puddin’ as they say.

In any event, we can see that the Misfit is round whereas the MiBand is not. The misfit also has quite a few more twinkling diodes then the Chinese kit, as the pic from here shows.

diodes

 

Once again, one has to wonder why Xiaomi would buy into Misfit.

The Facts- Xiaomi has no IP

Part of the problem is that Xiaomi targets the bargain basement shoppers. Their business model is geared towards those robust souls who consider purchases from the ‘Blue Light’ special at their local Kmart to be an integral part of their investment portfolio. This being the case, Xiaomi does not have the ability/desire to create. After all, creating takes time and energy, things Lei Jun’s firm is not willing to embrace as of yet.

The facts prove that in terms of innovation, Xiaomi calls to mind a North Korea, rather than Apple. In fact, Lei Jun’s thought leaders have managed to coax together merely a handful of invention patents in their home turf. Apple, on the other hand, has almost five hundred. Of course I am no Apple fanboy, but merely stating the facts.

Based on this data, it becomes obvious that Misfit has something that Xiaomi needs. Their paucity of patents hints at what this might be. Lei Jun knows his firm cannot innovate, and perhaps is fearful of continued ‘borrowing’. He may figure that if Xiaomi wishes to enter the west they need to start acting like they want to obey the law, even if they do not do so.

But what about the tech itself?

This post alludes to the MiBand’s value and somewhat limited use. Although it is in general very spartan, the sleep app is OK. This too, seems to be the strong suit of the overpriced Misfit as well. Your humble author has not compared the results of his Fitbit to MiBand as of yet, but at first blush, the MiBand seems pretty sound, at least as far as sleep study goes.

Without giving up too much about the ‘innards’ of the $14 fitness wonder, suffice it so say that the MiBand does not do much. What it lacks in the way of versatility it more than makes up for in incomplete and/or erroneous data. That is unless one is willing to believe that I ‘ran’ 123 kilometers yesterday, which is what my MiBand claims.

Conclusion

Partnering with Misfit is a good move. The high priced foreign kit is the well muscled and masculine ‘Batman’ to Xiaomi’s feline ‘Robin’. Xiaomi needs to shore up its IP portfolio and doing so with current resources is a recipe for fraud and invitation to failure. They have positioned themselves as bargain basement gear and engineered their tech accordingly. By purchasing up, they can legally ‘share’ in more advanced tech than they currently own and upgrade their image.

 

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