Xiaomi and South Korean search engine provider, Naver, have formed a partnership in which the Chinese electronics and software company will use Naver's artificial intelligence (AI) platform called Clova to run its Internet of Things (IoT) devices. As part of the alliance, the AI technologies of both companies will also be combined to reach a level of improvement that either platform will otherwise not be able to achieve alone.
The partnership is just the latest step in Xiaomi's efforts to advance its IoT push in this growing segment. For instance, the Beijing-based company plans to roll out dozens of IoT devices this year alone, including mobile devices and robot vacuums. The move is part of a broader goal to diversify its business and expand Xiaomi's footprint into other markets as the growth of the smartphone segment is slowing down, especially in its home country. It's not as if this is Xiaomi's first IoT-related initiative. In fact, the original equipment manufacturer has been offering what's called the IoT Home product family for quite some time now. In December last year, Xiaomi's Home product family exceeded ten million sales on a global scale approximately three years after the company made its first foray into the IoT segment. The company has been offering a wide variety of IoT devices such as smart speakers, thermostats, and robot vacuum cleaners, though most of these products are sold exclusively in China at present. The AI-based functionality of these devices is expected to further gain additional improvements in the future, thanks to Xiaomi's new partnership with Naver.
It's worth pointing out that Xiaomi's AI partnership with Naver is not unprecedented. In November last year, the company entered into a major partnership with Baidu to jointly collaborate on a wide range of AI and IoT-related solutions covering machine learning, computer vision, and voice recognition. One of the objectives of the alliance is to develop Baidu’s AI-based conversational operating system called DuerOS, which has already been baked into some of Xiaomi’s products. It is understood that Xiaomi's effort to grow its presence in the IoT market is part of the company's move to go public in 2018 with an expected valuation of more than $50 billion, potentially making it the largest tech IPO this year.