Xiaomi’s smart home brand MIJIA launched its smart rice cooker on Tuesday. Considering that China’s leading air conditioner manufacturer Gree released a smart rice cooker just three weeks ago, Xiaomi’s new product seems to be escalating the competition between Gree and Xiaomi in the smart home field.
Xiaomi’s Mi Induction Heating (IH) Pressure Rice Cooker is designed by Naito Takeshi, a former Sanyo engineer and co-inventor of the IH pressure rice cooker, which can optimize the texture of rice through a smartphone app. And it is priced at RMB 999 (USD 153), far lower than the RMB 4000 or so for Japanese versions with comparable specs.
“Compared with most Chinese rice cookers, high-end Japanese rice cookers perform a lot better,” said Xiaomi’s CEO Leijun. “This time we want to launch a rice cooker that can compete with the Japanese ones and beat them, at a lower price.”
Gree also sees the opportunity in rice cookers. On March 8, Gree unveiled its smart rice cooker at a conference held in Beijing. The “TOSOT Induction Heating Rice Cooker” is priced at RMB 1,199.
The enmity between Lei and Gree’s president Dong Mingzhu started last year, when they initiated a fierce verbal battle over their smartphone businesses. However, the two presented similar concerns during China’s Two Sessions earlier this month, expressing their concerns about the prevailing trend of Japanese rice cookers in China.
“At first, I thought the Chinese affection for Japanese rice cookers was just people blindly following a trend,” Lei said at the meetings. “But after market research, we found that the Japanese products are superior to ours.”
“I get angry about people going abroad to purchase their rice cookers,” said Dong. “There is no reason why we can’t make our own rice cooker brands with so many manufacturers in China.”
Some have predicted fierce market competition in the Chinese high-end rice cooker industry. But Chinese consumers will certainly benefit from it. More cheap, high-end rice cookers will be made, which will help Chinese rice cooker brands stand out globally, some say.
(Top photo from tech.hnr.cn)