The IoT trend that has been catching on over the past few years has brought transformation to device makers across the globe. Behind international appliance companies and gadget startups is MXCHIP, a company that enables devices to connect to the internet.
Connecting the unconnected
“The world began to spot the significance of the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart devices in 2013,” said Wang Yonghong, the founder and CEO of MXCHIP.
Growth in global smartphone shipments is predicted to drop to 3.1% in 2016 from 10.5% in 2015, according to IDC. For hardware makers, IoT may become their next profit engine.
It has been a slow dance for MXCHIP. Founded in 2004, the company started as an embedded software and hardware provider that enables corporate clients to upgrade their products. Later, the startup shifted its business to embedded wireless module products and internet connectivity operating systems.
The company established its domination in the market in China with applications in more than 10 million different devices, through cooperation with over 800 partners, according to MXCHIP.
“Our vision is connecting the unconnected. MXCHIP provides products with high-level stability, compatibility, and market recognition,” Wang told AllChinaTech.
Its wide array of cooperation partners fall into three categories: chip makers such as ARM and Atmel, cloud platforms like Amazon Cloud and Alibaba Cloud, as well as device makers like Bosch, Philips, and many domestic companies.
Investors have used investment to place a heavy bet on the future of IoT and on MXCHIP’s core market for wireless module products. Chinese tech behemoth Alibaba invested tens of millions in the startup in 2014.
MiCO and wireless module products
Wang is particularly proud when talking about MiCO – or micro-controller based internet connectivity operating system. Launched in 2014, the operating system improves the efficiency of chip makers, device makers and developers in designing and producing smart devices.
From smart scales to smart refrigerators, the IoT concept brings potential transformations to how we cook, shop, and interact with objects in the house.
Canada’s EZ-Robot is one of the company’s clients. Its robot, named Six, swirls its six legs before it dances to the movements of a wristband that is controlled by the user. The spider-like robot can also recognize your speech and respond.
The shipment of MiCO reached 10 million so far, making MXCHIP the world’s largest middleware provider by volume, Wang said. MiCO the operating system was used by over 400 different models of devices from more than 100 categories.
“MiCO is credited with shortening the time a device maker spends on developing a device into a smart one, from years to months. With our chips and Application Program Interface (API), device makers do not need to start from the very beginning,” said Wang.
For internet companies and app developers, MiCO plays the role of a distribution platform where developers reach end customers at multiple products. About 5% of China’s 200,000 embedded operating system developers are now working on the MiCO system.
On top of MiCO, the company provides wireless module products. Devices get connected to the internet via Wi-Fi by simply installing connection modules. To make devices even smarter, the company’s sensor modules collect sensor data, process the data, and upload that to the internet.
In preparation for a worldwide expansion beyond its headquarters in Shanghai, MXCHIP in 2014 opened a brand in the United States and this year established a team in charge of turning overseas markets into an important part of the company. Its attentions are now on doing the same in more cities to target developers and device companies in overseas markets.
America has rigorous standards for products, Wang said, requiring all technique indices to perform well. Aside from that, they require official verifications such as ROHS, SCC and CE.
In Wang’s eyes, American specialists’ work is clear-cut, focusing on software or hardware. MXCHIP’s ready-made modules combine software and hardware, enabling American developing professionals to start scale production within a shorter time.
“We will make more investment and set up branches in Europe and North America over the next few years. We aim to realize tens of million shipments in overseas markets in three years” said Wang.
The startup’s timing is fortuitous: The volume of connected things is predicted to reach 20.8 billion by 2020 from about 6.4 billion in 2016, according to Gartner.
MXCHIP’s five-member founding team have worked with each other for more than 10 years to expand it into a company with more than 100 employees. Wang’s partner was a university professor before he resigned from the post and joined MXCHIP.
“The managing team is the driving force of the company’s expansion. We share the same dream and keep it unchanged in the process of providing both products for industry and products for consumer goods, ” said Wang.
The inseparable team bet on the growth of IoT, which is proving to be the right decision. Their next bet, considering the market and the company’s characteristics, is on the overseas market.
(Top photo from Baidu Images)